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Interview with Lesley Athey, Rochford Council re. refurbished 1100l bins & locking posts.
Although all local authorities are dealing with budgetary pressures, the picture isn’t all doom and gloom. Out of hard financial times can come creative thinking and innovative solutions as local authorities think outside the box to provide more efficient frontline services.
One of the most forward-thinking local authorities in the country is Rochford, who recently topped the DEFRA league table for recycling rates in England. They engaged UK Containers to refurbish their 1100l bins and provide locking posts, Rochford District Council’s Principal Street Scene Officer, Lesley Athey explains more…
Q: Lesley, you have just had 60 of your old 1100l steel bins fully
refurbished, re-sprayed and labelled up, how did you get involved with UK Containers?
A: The recycling team at Rochford District Council is always trying to find new and innovative ways to help our residents recycle more materials and we work hard to promote the reduce, reuse, recycle message.
We looked at the bins we had which were fairly old and damaged and faced the choice of sending them to be recycled or taking the more environmentally friendly option of having them refurbished. The UKCM offer to refurbish our existing bins has not only meant that we have made substantial cost savings, but also found an environmentally-friendly solution by bringing them back to life.
Q: How does this scheme compare to your previous process?
A: Whenever we start a new recycling project, one of the first questions we always ask ourselves is “Will our residents find it easy to understand and convenient?” The newly-refurbished bins do just this. They are uniform and look the same across all locations in the District which offers our residents an easier more convenient way of recycling more and they take a mix of recyclable items.
Q: You also worked with UK Containers to create customised locking posts, why did you not just buy them off the shelf?
A: We wanted the bins to be in prominent locations across the District, at the same time, we needed to ensure they were properly secured.
UKCM offered us a customised solution which was bespoke to the locations where we planned to install the bins, such as car parks etc which has meant they are now almost impossible to move from where they are fixed and they look good too. It’s just one way that we worked with UKCM to ensure that we came up with the best solution for our particular situation.
Q: You seem very proactive as a Council in terms of innovation, how do you explain this?
A: The key to everything we do is making sure we communicate effectively. When we launched the Maximise Recycling Scheme in 2008 we were very active in communicating with our residents before it launched. We held face-to-face events, roadshows and made sure that we saw as many people as possible to talk about how the scheme would work.
We also have excellent communications with our contractors, SITA UK and we consulted with them on the design of the bring bank solution to ensure that it was simple for their operatives to use and easy for our residents to understand. This approach along with UKCM’s commitment to the project has been a great success story.
The efforts we have made with our communications continues to pay dividends because we now have an open conversation about recycling with our residents and contractors. Our residents are genuinely enthusiastic about recycling and are constantly giving us ideas on how we can improve things or help them recycle more.
Q: How did you work with your contractors SITA UK on this new project?
SITA UK has always been very supportive in offering us their expertise and advice, especially in the early days of our Maximise Recycling Scheme. With this particular project of refurbishing bins and designing a custom solution, it was no different and they have been a valuable partner. They worked on the design of the locking posts and provide us with feedback on the usage of the bins and the posts to keep them in a well maintained condition. They are the experts and we’re always happy to receive their help and guidance.