Striving for Excellence Award after trio of recycling and waste service improvement projects across 18 months

Aberdeenshire Council with their APSE Award

ABERDEENSHIRE Council’s Recycling & Waste Service has won a Silver Striving for Excellence Award from the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) after three massive improvement projects were delivered across the past 18 months.

The awards recognise where local authorities are going above and beyond when delivering fleet, waste, and grounds services for their local communities.

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The winners were announced at the recent APSE Scotland Fleet, Waste, and Grounds Seminar 2024 in Aviemore.

The three projects recognised as part of the award were the diamond bin replacement programme, the introduction of in-cab technology for bin collection crews, and the rollout of new orange lid bins to improve the quality and quantity of what is recycled across the region.

Councillor Alan Turner, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), said: “The team has put in some excellent work across the past two years to implement these major changes to how every household and business in Aberdeenshire has its waste and recycling collected. Having put these systems in place, it is now time to fully embed them and maximise their benefits.”

ISC vice chair Councillor Isobel Davidson said: “The team has shown great dedication, patience, and perseverance to work through the challenges of making these important projects possible. It is right that they receive this level of national recognition among the top-ranking recycling and waste services in Scotland.”

For each of the projects, Aberdeenshire Council welcomed funding from the Scottish Government’s Recycling Improvement Fund—administered by Zero Waste Scotland, to be able to progress the changes.

The diamond bin replacement programme

Across six months, Aberdeenshire Council recovered more than 77,000 redundant “diamond lift” wheelie bins from the two remaining areas using them in the region—Marr and Kincardine & Mearns—and replaced them with industry-standard comb-lift bins.

All household waste and recycling bins in Aberdeenshire are now standard comb-lift bins, making all collection vehicles compatible with any bin anywhere in Aberdeenshire, allowing for efficiencies in vehicle usage and routing.

The redundant bins were sent to Bright Green Plastic, part of IPL UK—a company offering a closed-loop recycling solution to shred, granulate, re-formulate, wash, and create a clean polymer from the recovered resource that was ultimately used in the making of the new orange lid bins.

The new in-cab technology system allows collection crews to record real-time information via easy-to-use digital devices inside the waste collection vehicles. This includes information on issues such as access difficulties to properties, unauthorised bins, or contamination of recycling bins.

Supervisors can use the system to identify live issues and support crews, deal with call centre issues, and understand progress with the option to navigate to a specific property/street/asset on the system. They will also have access to more information such as photos and crew notes. This allows supervisors to reallocate work to support crews if there is a breakdown; all of which will assist the Contact Centre and back-office teams to deal with customer queries.

In-cab technology has been live for domestic collections since May 2023. Crews are being trained to use the new system which will soon expand to trade collections.

New orange lid bins

Aberdeenshire Council recently completed its rollout of kerbside bin collection changes that also introduced new orange lid bins to improve the quantity and quality of what is recycled across the region, covering more than 120,000 households.

As a result of these changes, paper, card, and cardboard recycling is much cleaner across Aberdeenshire, with some sampling even showing a contamination rate of under 1%.

By improving the quality of the recycling in this way, while also avoiding additional costly and unnecessary sorting processes, the change helps to subsidise the costs of waste disposal that have been increasing over recent years, saving the council up to £765,000 every year. That saving can be used across the waste service to help cover any budget gaps.

Aberdeenshire Council’s fleet was also recognised with a Bronze Award under the Fleet category of APSE’s Striving for Excellence Awards 2024.

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