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Driver shortages won’t stop Recycle More rollout, Somerset waste bosses promise Bath City News

The deployment of Recycle More will not be postponed or interrupted due to driver shortages, Somerset waste officials have promised.

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) is set to begin phase two of its deployment at the end of June, with 76,653 households in southern Somerset expected to see their garbage collections change dramatically.

SWP’s waste contractor Suez has struggled to recruit and retain drivers – part of a nationwide problem – resulting in the lack of heavy collections in recent weeks.

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But waste officials said they would not stop the deployment and were working hard to address the shortage.

In a letter distributed to partners in local authorities on June 11, the SWP admitted that it had been “a difficult few weeks”, adding that its crews had been “under prolonged pressure for over a year”.

They added: “While the collections are not currently where we would like them to be at the moment and we are working hard to retrieve them, the tremendous efforts of our frontline staff who have worked hard during the last year remain incredible and for which we are extremely grateful. “

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Recycle More was launched in the Mendip area in October 2020, with more recycled items curbside and waste collection dropping from every two weeks to once every three weeks.

The SWP has vowed that the driver shortage will not prevent phase two – covering all of southern Somerset – from going as planned.

A spokesperson said: “There will be no impact on the deployment of Recycle More. The next phase begins in South Somerset on June 28.”

Documents released ahead of a SWP Joint Review Group meeting on Wednesday 23 June indicate that the SWP has already started work to upgrade its Walford Cross depot near Taunton ahead of phase three of the deployment, which will begin on November 1.

Guide to what happens in every recycling box or bag under Recycle More (Image: Somerset Waste Partnership)

Phase three will cover 55,207 households in the former Taunton Deane area, while Sedgemoor and the former West Somerset area will not start receiving service until February 28, 2022 at the earliest.

To combat the driver shortage, any missed collection on Friday (June 18) will be collected the following Friday (June 25).

A spokesperson said: “Crews are working hard to complete delayed collections despite a severe shortage of drivers.

“Moving missed recycling from Friday to next week will help get collections back on track.

“We apologize for the disruption and are working hard with its contractor Suez to resolve the issues. However, there is no quick fix and continued disruption is likely in the near future.”

The shortage of heavy truck drivers – estimated at 70,000 drivers nationwide – has been compounded by a number of factors, including the coronavirus pandemic (which has affected training and testing), drivers of the EU leaving UK after Brexit and growing demand resulting from reopening of non-essential vehicles to retail.

Areas expected to be affected by missed collections include Bridgwater, Brompton Ralph, Bruton, Castle Cary, Cheddon Fitzpaine, East Quantoxhead, Holford, Kilve, Norton Fitzwarren, Stogursey, Stringston, Taunton and Wincanton.

The SWP urges all qualified drivers, including anyone who has recently retired, to apply for vacancies at its bases in Bridgwater, Evercreech, Taunton, Williton and Yeovil.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-21 10:36:44

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