Agenda item

Recycling, Waste Collection and Street Cleansing Contract Performance Update

Wards: All


Report authorised by:Venetia Reid-Baptiste: Interim Strategic Director for Resident Services


Contact for enquiries: Doug Perry, Assistant Director Waste Management, Cleansing and Ancillary Services, 020 7926 1255,



During discussion of this item the guillotine fell at 9.00 pm.


RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.


The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, Councillor Rezina Chowdhury, and Doug Perry, Assistant Director of Waste Management Cleansing and Ancillary Services, noted:

·           A new waste and recycling collector was appointed in October 2021 for six years with an option to extend up to a further eight years.

·           The new contract delivered £1m of savings per year.

·           The contract included increased social value to target local employment and apprenticeship opportunities, whilst keeping cleanliness at high standards.

·           Due to Covid-19, the contract started six months later than planned and coincided with the leaf-fall season, compounded by driver and loader shortages, which made delivery of services and performance challenging, however since the start of the contract a number of changes have been made and the Council was assured of improvement this year.

·           The Serco contract covered street cleansing, Lambeth housing estate cleansing to external areas, fly-tipping removal, and waste and recycling collections across all waste streams.

·           Lambeth aimed to assure residents received the best possible service and increased recycling.


The Committee next heard from Paula Vasquez, resident, as follows:

·           Some recent improvements had been seen, but there had been issues since October 2021.

·           Small items of litter were left around nearby shops, and lots of litter bins were left behind.

·           Collection times needed to be published on the website.

·           The lack of response to complaints was not good, which could take a week to come back, and some operatives were rude when doing collections.


The Cabinet Member and officers responded to questions as follows:

·           The contract was a self-monitoring contract with a client team of four people, using a series of monitoring techniques including street inspections, 360-degree CCTV, GPS tracking and analysis of requests and complaints to ensure the service is delivered to a high standard.

·           There was a monitoring plan and officers targeted areas of the contract, with operatives physically going out to undertake inspections, write reports, followed by meetings with Serco to conduct improvements.

·           The Serco contract was output-based, including intelligent deployment of resources to proactively identify roads requiring additional cleansing, and before had been input-based where roads had been cleaned twice weekly.  Where roads fell below acceptable standards, Serco had between two and 24 24 hours to resolve depending on the type of road. 

·           Inspection data would be used to reassign resources and cleaning frequency.

·           Smaller mechanical brooms could be used to get into pavement channels to clear weeds.

·           All residents were encouraged and could complain online which was reported to Serco and the Council, and Serco was expected to respond within 24 hours.

·           The Council had stopped using chemical weedkillers last year and was looking to encourage biodiversity.  15 streets notified the Council that they wanted to take control and the Council did undertake examinations on a regular basis.

·           A review was underway to ascertain how weeds would be environmentally and economically kept under control.

·           Lambeth had higher recycling rates compared to similar boroughs, but outer London boroughs with larger gardens and more garden waste had even higher rates, as this was measured by weight.  If garden size was accounted for it was expected Lambeth would remain one of the best.

·           The pandemic had significantly increased waste as people worked from home, but also increased recycling.  Waste levels were now coming down, but the percentage of recycling stayed up which showed behaviours were improving.

·           Lambeth had recently introduced small electricals and battery waste collection, but there were still contaminates in waste collection, including from textiles and cellophane. Most was collected and processed at the material recovery facility, which the Council paid for.  In some cases, it was not possible to collect bins as they were too contaminated, and in such cases a targeted approach had proved successful to change behaviours. If this was not successful, officers spoke to residents.

·           Crews checked every bin before emptying and there were also random vehicle sample checks at the transfer station to monitor recycling. 

·           The majority of contaminates were from communal housing areas and this remained an ongoing challenge as it was harder to target the correct resident. This arose due to small flats making recycling inconvenient or residents being confused by the bins; one option was to make bin apertures smaller, but this then made it frustrating for recyclers to use.

·           There was currently a national-level review around confusing plastic recycling – noting suggestions to number types of plastic; but further advice would be put on the website.

·           Weed control options included water-based foam which was expensive nor environmentally friendly; mechanical strimmers; or steel brushes on small mechanical brooms.


Exclusion of the press and public and summary of part II proceedings

MOVED by the Chair and:


RESOLVED: That under section 100A-H of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting on the grounds that, for the item of business summarised below, it was likely that exempt information, as defined by Section 1001 and Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972 and as specified by reference to the appropriate paragraph thereof, would be disclosed to them:


3. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person including the authority holding that information.


Clerk’s note: no recommendations were taken under exempt proceedings.



1.         To report on the social value benefits achieved under Year 1 of the Serco contract compared to the previous supplier by September 2022, particularly in relation to new apprenticeships and to increase and improve community initiatives.

2.         To report on the level of customer satisfaction, particularly in relation to waste collection, street cleaning, reuse, and recycling, by September 2022.

3.         To closely monitor complaints regarding waste collection and street cleaning, and report back with resolving actions undertaken during the first year of the contract by September 2022.

4.         To ensure the systematic and independent monitoring of service performance against KPIs, such as food and garden waste and other service failures, in addition to self-monitoring.

5.         To request that Serco continue to educate on good practice and provide targeted information on recycling to improve rates and practice, and research how best to encourage recycling.

6.         To report back on what can and cannot be recycled in Lambeth, improve information-sharing with residents on recycling, and to detail work undertaken to increase recycling of currently non-recyclable items.


Supporting documents: