Sandwell food waste bin collections return after Serco complaints

Food waste management services and a new fleet of waste collection vans are back in Sandwell from next week.

It comes after a report released last month by Sandwell’s board on the performance of Serco – the outsourcing company responsible for Sandwell’s collections – claimed they could ‘miss’ its contract with Serco if improvements significant were not provided.

The report concluded that Serco’s contract with the council was ‘deeply unsatisfactory’ and said ‘urgent action’ was needed to improve bin collection, according to comments from councilors heard at a review panel economy, skills, transport and environment last month.

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Recommendations listed in the report included reintroducing food waste collections, which were initially halted due to the pandemic.

Serco holds a 25-year contract for waste management and recycling services at Sandwell. The contract, established in November 2010, is valued at £650m and will end by 2035.

But the Hampshire-based company has found itself in trouble with Sandwell Council due to increased complaints from residents about fly-tipping, lack of collections and delays waiting at recycling centers household.

From now on, from March 28, food waste collections (brown bin) from Sandwell will resume throughout the borough.

Councilor Ahmad Bostan, Cabinet Member of the Sandwell Council for the Environment, said: “We are delighted that food waste collections are restarting. This is a real boost to recycling collections for our residents. The Food waste collection service will provide a much better end use for all of our food scraps, which in turn supports our environment.

Tony Marston, Serco’s Senior Contracts Manager, said: “If you don’t have an indoor kitchen cart, you can always reuse something from around the house – like an old tub of ice cream – to keep in your kitchen. .

“Remember to use newspaper or paper towels to line the container to keep your brown bin clean. You can also buy compostable bags at most major retailers.”

Meanwhile, a new Sandwell street-cleaning pilot project with high-tech equipment kicked off this week. A new compact sweeper will be used to clean downtown sidewalks and a new street vacuum cleaner will be used to pick up small trash.

Both vehicles will be used in all Sandwell town centers and, if successful, Serco will invest in additional vehicles to help keep the streets of the borough clean.

Sandwell Council Leader Kerrie Carmichael said: “These new additions to the street cleaning team will help keep the streets in our town centers clean and free of litter.

“Obviously we would rather people use the bins provided or take the rubbish home rather than littering our streets.

“We want our downtowns to be vibrant places for the community and inviting places for people to come back again and again.”

The investment in new street cleaning equipment also joins 18 of Sandwell’s waste fleet being replaced, according to Sandwell Council.

Councilor Carmichael added: “We have some of the best waste and recycling collection services in the country and still maintain a weekly collection for general waste, recycling and food waste and a fortnightly free collection for waste garden.”

More information can be found at http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/foodwaste

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