A NEW resource-sharing platform has now been launched by CIWM which enables local authorities in urgent need of support during the coronavirus crisis to link up with private sector contractors with resources to spare.
The WasteSupport platform has been developed by CIWM with cross-sector support from Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), Environmental Services Association (ESA), Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB), United Resource Operators Consortium (UROC) and WRAP, in discussion with Defra.
Each partner has contributed insight into the respective needs of local authorities and commercial waste companies and helped to beta-test the platform, which will be refined over time with further user and partner feedback.
The new service provides an online sharing forum that enables local authorities facing resource challenges in maintaining all of their household waste collection services because of COVID-19 to indicate where they need service capacity support, as well as other requirements such as PPE or vehicle maintenance engineers. Commercial waste collection firms with surplus capacity are now also able to use the platform to indicate those services they are able to supply, thereby providing a ‘virtual marketplace’ to facilitate sharing.
Trevor Nicoll, CIWM President and and head of Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service said: “The coronavirus pandemic has generated contrasting challenges for the public and private waste collection sectors. Local authorities are facing staff shortages as waste operatives are having to self-isolate, either as a precautionary measure or because they are unwell. This may lead to councils having to temporarily change the type or frequency of collection services they offer, as well as place pressure on other waste-related services.
“In parallel, many commercial waste companies are finding that their commercial waste collection workload has reduced as many businesses temporarily close and are faced with having to furlough staff. WasteSupport is intended to bridge this gap and support collaborative working that will benefit both the public and private sector in these difficult times.”
Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Jacob Hayler, said: “Although the private sector is still delivering on the frontline of council waste services, many operators have additional resources which are now under-utilised, since commercial and industrial business has declined as household waste volumes ramp up during this crisis. These resources could be put to better use serving pressured local authorities, so this platform provides a great match-making tool to bring both halves of this equation together.”
WRAP UK director Peter Maddox said: “WRAP is delighted to have played our part in the rapid development of the WasteSupport platform. During these unprecedented and uncertain times, it has been extremely heartening to see the willingness of organisations across the public and private waste collection sectors to work together in the public interest. I am proud that WRAP has been able to contribute to that effort.”
The platform has been developed in line with procurement rules, notably Regulation 32(2)(c) in the Public Contract Regulations 2015, which allows some easement of normal public procurement rules ‘for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation cannot be complied with’. The Government’s recent ‘Procurement Policy Note 01/20: Responding to COVID-19’provides guidance on using this provision.
The platform provides a menu of the key services that local authorities may require, or that commercial waste companies may be able to offer. The site is only accessible to local authorities and licenced/permitted operators, and everyone who signs up to use it will have to prove their credentials in order to access the full site.
Following sign-up and verification, participants will be able to indicate what services they require or can offer. Entries are searchable, and the site will send automatic updates to those who sign up, showing them new entries that match their criteria. Where a participant finds a match, they will be able to access contact details, enabling them to initiate discussions with a potential partner privately and confidentially.