Wigan Council

Transforming the Waste Collection Service 

Legacy and Progression

Wigan Council invested in our in-cab software (whitespace) in 2021, this immediately saw a reduction in paper usage by 70%. we stopped printing assisted collection and additional bin lists. Demand to our contact centre also reduced, this was achieved by having a digital connection with the web and giving real time reporting on why a bin or street could not be collected by our waste and recycling teams. Residents can log into my account to be advised what has happened and what they can do to resolve the issue if contaminated, or if our vehicle is going to return due to blocked access. if there is no record from our crews’ residents can log a missed collection. we created a 3-step process for contamination due to the increase in reporting process being more streamlined, we was concerned this would increase our Environmental enforcement and education officers (EEE) workload, so if a crew report a contaminated bin, the digital process would trigger a letter based on how many contaminated recorded were logged on the account site.

The process would trigger the corresponding letter to be sent within 48 hours of the report by the crews, this info is also immediately available on the web if they try to report a missed bin. We worked with our legal team to recognise the contamination process which meant if a residents property was reported 3 times this led to a visit from an EEE officer and give us the ability to issue a section 46 notice for contamination (A section 46 notice is a legally binding notice regarding waste and recycling bins, households that receive a section 46 must adhere to rules set out for waste and recycling bins, failure to do this can result in a fixed penalty) we have the ability to remove triggers giving residents a second chance following recycling education from our EEE officers.

Since this initial implementation of the in-cab we have realised other areas of digital process we can use to make further efficiencies and progress the in-cab beyond its intended functions. We created digital forms using the software available to us from whitespace for our crews to use to record ppe orders, incident/accident reporting, driver mentoring forms, time sheets and flats audit requests.

By using an apple ipad to install whitespace, this device gave the opportunity to give our crews a digital identity and access all of corporate intranet access which previously was only for back office staff with a laptop or desktop. This gave our staff the ability to view their payslips online, view their holiday balance, access any council rewards and book onto corporate training, access and update their personal details.

We created Microsoft teams accounts for all our crews to communicate between themselves and also use teams for live video calls if they encounter breakdowns or need assistance from others in the same area or waste stream collecting.

By using the forms on whitespace to record staff time sheets, this saw cost saving of £6000 per year for the subscription to a time master system.

We used the incab forms to create a connection with waste management, this is so crews can report shared accommodation for not having the correct waste and recycling facilities or report if the property had different bins to what was being held in our back office. We worked closely with whitespace to create 7 bespoke forms 1 for the crew and 6 for the reporting officer to create bin delivery request, update requests, exchange requests or remove requests.


Level of Impact

The level of impact since the implementation of the incab and the additional progression we have created has been huge, we saw an initial reduction in paper usage by 70% within our service. Contact to the call centre was massively reduced due to all info being available on the web for residents when they log into my account to report a missed bin. If our crew records an exception or incident this is presented on the web for residents and advice’s the next steps regarding contamination or when we will return following blocked access or a breakdown. We reduced the workload for environmental enforcement and education officers (EEE) with the 3-step digital process that recognises how many times a crew reported contamination and will automatically send the correct letter based on how many reports that property has had. The letter also includes additional info on what to do before next collection. If a property gets 3 contaminated reports the process will request an officer visit the resident and offer education on recycling and can request for the property to be put back a step in the process. If they record another contamination (4th log) the system will create a s46 job for officers, this will mean the property will be issued a section 46 notice and then possibly issue a fixed penalty for contamination.

This has had a significant impact on both services making us more efficient in addressing contamination in a more user friendly and time saving process.

Since giving our crews access to Microsoft teams for communication we have seen all crews start to utilise this feature by liaising themselves when breakdowns occur or the crew finds themselves behind schedule due to traffic, road works or incidents that may have impacted their collections. You can see from the documents attached below they use this to ask for help to bring them back inline to complete their daily work. This has also been beneficial to our mechanics workshop where crew can live video call if they have a mechanical fault on the vehicle, in some cases the breakdown has been fixed over the hone stopping the crew from returning to the depot for a wagon swap.

The additional forms we have created has reduced paper usage for annual leave requests, ppe requesting, and accident/incident reports, previously we had paper forms that needed to be filled in on the return to the depot. the insurance forms have made our reporting process more streamlined by giving the crew the ability to log and take photos of the incident or accident whilst on site, this emails all the details to our insurance section, transport, and emails all our supervisors with the details and photos included. this has led to a more proactive response by insurance and allows transport to plan due to the info provided on the digital form.

We utilised the forms on the in-cab to create a digital time sheet for our staff to log their working time, this has resulted in a £6000 per year saving by removing the clocking in /out machine. the process calculates the start and end time, minus any breaks but plus any toolbox talks or training, the process then checks each staff member has completed enough working hours for the week, if any staff member is found to not be achieving the correct working time, this emails the manager to investigate the reasons why.

Since giving our crews access to the new flats audit forms, this had led to our data held within the back office to be a true reflection of what bins we have on site for shared accommodation. whilst our crews are on site, they can view the data we hold for that property, if this doesn’t match with what is on site, they can request an audit. this creates a new job for our waste management team. once an officer attends site they can update the account site with the correct info, request an exchange of domestic bins for recycling bins if there is none on site, request additional bins if there is not enough capacity, or request for bins to be removed if there are too many bins for the property. This all links directly to our bin delivery team who will receives the request. once the crew confirm the request has been completed these emails our back-office admin team to update the records with correct service items. by removing domestic waste and introducing recycling bins, this has led to significant savings by reducing domestic waste going to landfill.


Additional Evidence or Information

On the attached document you will see all the data stats to confirm all the above processes has made a significant impact on the waste services, Environmental enforcement, and education (EEE) and the contact centre, ultimately resulting in more proactive information for our residents.

Since the introduction of the in-cab missed bins was reported on an ad-hoc basis, some reports came through manually and some reports came through the web, which reflects the low figure of missed bins for 2021 due to them not being recorded in our data, the in-cab has enabled us to proactively use the data for repeat missed bins being reported, and also assists the crews in a more efficient route for completing the tasks, this has been reflected by removing a missed bin crew and vehicle, we are now able to complete missed bins with 3 crews, previously the crews had to use their local knowledge and a paper based AZ map for directions, the in-cab has the ability to highlight nearest first reports and has the added feature to sat nav the crew directly to the property or collection point for that report.

Waste services has seen savings made since the introduction of the in-cab due to the reduction of paper usage, more streamlined missed bin service, reducing from 4 vehicles to 3 vehicles with crews. We use the data that’s recorded by residents as a missed collection, to liaise with crews if any are a repeated missed collection, this is used to highlight to crews and avoid more escalation and repeat issues, this has helped towards the reduction of vehicles used.

The addition of Microsoft teams has not only improved communication between crews and back office, but it has also improved communication from crew to crew, our crews now liaise together to ensure the teams are on target to complete all of the allocated work. Crews now add messages themselves if there is a breakdown, heavy traffic, or roadworks. Alternatively, if a crew has collected more waste than usual meaning an extra tip run, other crews that have spare room have saved this tip run by either helping to complete the work left or will swap vehicles to save the travel. This in turn has led to fuel efficiencies along with improved teamwork between themselves.

The service has been more intelligence led by capturing the data collected from the in-cab exception or incident reports, this in turn has led to a more efficient contamination process, more so we are almost at the point of rolling out a new process were, any resident being logged as presenting a contaminated bin for collection, will be offered the opportunity to complete a household awareness/ educational programme for contamination, this takes no longer than 15 mins to complete, once completed this automatically creates a worksheet in whitespace to empty all of the contaminated bins giving a fresh a start. This is then logged and if the resident contaminates their bins again this will result in an immediate fine. Further data to show paper reductions, call centre demand and EEE letters sent for contamination can be found on the attached document.

Screenshots from our waste services team chats can also be seen on the attached document.