In recent weeks you may have experienced some delays to your waste and recycling collections. We are very sorry for these delays, which are due to a number of factors outside our direct control.
We are working hard to maintain the services we provide and to keep any disruption as minimal as possible.
We hope the information below helps to explain some of the challenges we are experiencing.
Increases in the amount of waste and recycling presented
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen a substantial increase (roughly 10%) in the amount of waste and recycling that we have been collecting as more people work from home and order online. Our vehicles can only carry a limited amount of waste and as a result need to return to unload more often. This means that our crews have less time to collect the waste that they are tasked to collect.
We have seen an increase in issues linked to parked cars preventing access to our collection vehicles meaning they have to return later or the next day to retry.
Like many industries our services are impacted by staff testing positive for Covid and needing to isolate, and in some unfortunate cases becoming very ill.
As our collection crews work closely together there is an increased chance of more staff having to isolate following a positive result. We are taking steps to minimise the impact of this, primarily to protect the health of staff, but also to minimise the impact on the operation. This includes organising staff to work in team bubbles, staggering start times and providing additional hygiene supplies. Please be assured that we are following all the relevant guidelines and procedures in place.
There is a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers affecting a variety of organisations and services. The waste and recycling sector is particularly affected and many councils have vacancies for drivers. Please see our current vacancies.
Why is there a shortage of drivers?
- Ageing workforce – the average age of HGV driver in the UK is 55. As drivers reach retirement age there are not enough newly trained drivers to replace them.
- Backlog of driver tests – during the national lockdowns test centres were closed for several months. This has created a backlog of tests for newly skilled drivers
- Loss of European drivers – during the pandemic many drivers from Europe returned home with many not returning. Brexit has also made jobs in the UK less appealing to European workers, particularly drivers.
- ‘Pingdemic’ The effects of this have mostly worn off but workers needing to isolate has exacerbated existing issues. There is also an increase in the number of people isolating because they have the virus, due to increased levels in Devon
Overall staffing levels
We currently have some rounds operating with fewer crew members than normal. As you can imagine this is less efficient and leads to delays.
How are we working to minimise impact?
- In the short term, we have had staff working most Saturdays and some Sundays throughout the summer to catch up with any delayed services.
- In the long term, we have started an apprenticeship scheme for our staff to train as HGV drivers, in a bid to improve the driver shortage issue. This however takes time as there is currently a waiting list for the test centres.
- We have also written to the Home Secretary to highlight the issue and asked her to take immediate action to help rectify the situation, asking for HGV drivers to be recognised as an important shortage occupation with a two-year derogation to the points-based immigration rules for trained HGV drivers.
Thank you for your support
As you can imagine, ongoing pressures are challenging for our workforce. As such, we really appreciate the ongoing support of our residents and we apologise for any inconvenience you may experience due to collection delays.
Please continue to put your waste and recycling out for collection on your collection day and we will continue to collect from you as soon as we are able to.
If your neighbours' containers have been emptied and yours haven’t please continue to report them as missed.