North Somerset Council has awarded Biffa Group a seven year contract to collect household waste and recycling, as well as manage local household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) for the authority.
The company said that it was one of three municipal contractors invited to submit final tenders, and that it will replace incumbent contractor Kier.
Once Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) arrangements are finalised some 160 staff will transfer to Biffa.
Valued at close to £50 million the contract will be effective from 1 March 2017 and will run until the end of February 2024. It includes an option for a further extension of 13 years thereafter.
Historically, North Somerset has been one of England’s top recycling local authorities. It was ranked 11th in Defra’s 2014-15 recycling league with a recycling rate of 60.1%.
Biffa said that it is the only contractor to have more than one client council in Defra’s top 10 ranking (four councils in all, including the top two).
“North Somerset has solid plans to advance its outstanding recycling record while husbanding financial resources,” commented Biffa Municipal managing director Roger Edwards.
Councilor Peter Bryant, North Somerset’s executive member for recycling and waste, added: “As a council, we have worked hard to get our recycling and waste service to the current excellent performance levels, and I am keen that we sustain this.
“There are a number of features of the new contract which I hope our residents will welcome, and that will enable us to maintain our position as one of the top performing councils in the country for recycling and waste. This is a great opportunity for all of us to refocus our efforts on reducing, re-using and recycling.”
He also said that the council places substantial emphasis on improving the contract’s social value through increased local employment opportunity. The aim is to have up to 5% of staff participating as apprentices or trainees.
Service changes planned for North Somerset’s 95,000 households include providing wheeled bins rather than sacks for garden waste, and the incremental roll-out of colour-coded kerbside-sort recycling boxes to help residents recycle more easily and efficiently.
Biffa said that it expects further recycling gains from the introduction of kerbside collections of small household waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), a service pioneered by Biffa, as well as improved food waste collections from flats.
The company will also manage three HWRCs at Weston-super-Mare, Portishead and Backwell, and said that it has committed to achieving an average waste diversion target of 53% over the life of the contract (currently around 42%).
There is also a planned increase in focusing on moving waste materials up the waste hierarchy by improving the reuse of materials in partnership with local social enterprises.
The range of materials that can be accepted at the trio of HWRCs will also be expanded to include hard plastics and plate glass.
A new fleet of almost 60 vehicles will be purchased to service the contract, nearly half of them being resource recovery vehicles (RRVs) for collecting food waste and dry recyclables at the same time, and the remainder being refuse / garden waste collection vehicles and smaller support vehicles.
Biffa will operate from a new depot at the Westland Distribution Park in West-super-Mare. It will be the operational centre for the contract, as well as a transfer station for dry recyclables.
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