(Mr. J. McConnell, City Services Manager (Resources and Fleet), attended in connection with this item).
The Director of City Services submitted a report, which provided an update for the Committee in respect of the current position concerning the waste collection service.
The Director reminded the Members that, the People and Communities Committee at its meeting on 5th March, had considered a report in respect of ongoing service issues. She continued that, as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the planned initiatives had been temporarily set aside to enable efforts to be concentrated on restoring and delivering the core functions and services of Waste Collections and Waste Management in the current environment of restricted resources and finances. She explained that, it was now envisaged, subject to approval, that the proposed improvement activities could be incorporated with the resumption of the Fleet and Resources Transition and Improvement Programme, subject to additional resources being made available.
The City Services Manager then provided the Committee with a comprehensive overview and update in respect of recovery of the services as follows:
· 25th March – restriction to black bin general waste only;
· 30th March – reintroduction of brown bin collections for food and organic waste;
· 31st March – reintroduction of blue bin collections for dry recyclables;
· 6th April – reintroduction of Commercial Waste Services;
· 27th April – reintroduction of Kerbside Box Pilot collections;
· 11th May – reintroduction of Glass Pilot collections;
· 18th May – reopening of 4 main HRCs;
· 8th June – restoration of Bulky Waste Collections;
· 12th June – reopening of Automated Public Conveniences;
· 1st July – partial restoration of graffiti removal (PBNI partnership suspended);
· 17th August – phased reopening of City Centre Public Conveniences;
· 7th September – resumption of contracted Doorstep Asbestos Collection;
· September 2020 – planned resumption of Abandoned Vehicles Recovery Service; and
· TBC - Civic Amenity Sites.
The Committee noted that the level of domestic waste presented in bins had shown significant increases year on year and it had seen a substantial increase over ‘lockdown’. In simplest terms, in relation to all waste streams, in 4 months, Resources and Fleet had collected in the region of 3806 tonnes of additional waste compared to same period last year. This equated to approximately 406 additional full refuse collection vehicles over the 17 week period (approx. 24 full lorries per week). The additional workload had been absorbed.
In terms of commercial waste arrangements, as businesses across the city had started to reopen, commercial waste collections had been flexible to meet the changing needs and requirement of the customers.
The Committee noted that Bryson House had also experienced significantly more household waste at the kerbside as a result of more people being at home.
Following a recent meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, the Committee also received an update in respect of the Bryson Kerbside Collection Contract Extension. It noted that officers in Resources and Fleet had commenced the process of sourcing independent expertise on waste collections, this would include a feasibility study of potential options with approximate associated costs and timelines. The Members were also asked to note in their diaries that a workshop specifically in respect of Waste Collections was being held remotely on Wednesday, 7th October at 12.00 noon.
On a positive note, the Committee was advised that over the period of the Covid Pandemic, Council officers had worked collaboratively and shared information with both DAERA and other Councils. They had successfully shared solutions, ideas and best practice around health and safety, operations and service recovery. All councils had incurred both extra costs and loss of income as a result of the impact of Covid-19, assistance had been sought from central government on an 11 council collective basis working through DAERA to offset the financial difficulties, although progress in securing financial assistance had been slow. SOLACE had commissioned an Association of Local Government Finance Officers (ALGFO) Sub Group to progress this on behalf of the 11 councils.
The Director also drew the Members attention to the following two consultation papers:
· Plastic Packaging Tax Consultation - From April 2022, the Plastic Packaging Tax will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK containing less than 30% recycled plastic. Officers contributed comments on the consultation to arc21 and an arc21co-ordinated a response on behalf of its member councils was presented to the arc21 steering group on 18th August 2020 and thereafter was submitted to HMRC; and
· Future Recycling and Separate Collection of Waste of a Household Nature in Northern Ireland –a major consultation paper from DAERA in relation to the shape of recycling from both Municipal and Domestic Waste Collections considering how to achieve the next levels of recycling targets for Northern Ireland. Officers had already contributed to the arc21 and Council Waste Forums proposed submissions. It was recognised that because of differing views and collection methods currently being employed across the 11 Councils that there was unlikely to be a consensus on some of the consultation responses. Therefore, in addition to the other responses, BCC officers would present the current Discussion Document on the "Future Recycling and Separate Collection of Waste of a Household Nature in Northern Ireland" alongside the draft Belfast City Council response to the document for approval in September, ahead of the 4th October deadline.
In respect of the pilot Wheelie Box Scheme, the committee was advised that primary conversations had been held with DAERA officials in relation to the appetite to fund the capital requirements of an expansion of the Scheme into the inner city 58000 household area currently being serviced with a two box system by Bryson. An application would be submitted for consideration in due course.
Finally, the Director advised that an invitation had been received from the Bio-Plastics Europe Network inviting the Council to join the Bio-Plastics Europe Network: “Historic Cities against Plastic Waste”.
· noted that a workshop in relation to Waste Collections was being held remotely on Wednesday, 7th October at 12.00 noon; and
· agreed that the Council would join the Bio-Plastics Europe Network: “Historic Cities against Plastic Waste”.