Cardboard is a major concern for council waste management teams

The pandemic impacted us in many unexpected ways – one of which was purchasing habits. The closure of non-essential retail stores forced people to shop online more, leading to ecommerce sales hitting a 13-year high in 2020, according to IMRG Capgemini statistics.

While this was good news for retailers, the sudden rise in online orders created a major logistical headache for local authority waste management teams.

Recycling volumes increased by 25% year-on-year, driven by leftover cardboard packaging from online deliveries. Crews struggled to keep pace with kerbside recycling collections – particularly with social distancing rules in place – and many councils needed to divert collections to different materials recycling facilities (MRFs) as their usual plants reached capacity.

While we’re hoping operational restrictions will ease over the coming months, ecommerce adoption is unlikely to slow. With online sales predicted to progress at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.2% for five years, waste management teams need to tackle the threat of ‘cardboard chaos’ head-on.

Driving long-term change
As recycling volumes continue to rise, visibility and strategic choice are critical to success. However, many local authority waste management departments don’t currently have the technology to make informed decisions.

Spreadsheets and legacy software might provide historic data, but it’s not easy to see what is happening in the moment and make responsive decisions.

For long-term improvements, councils need to invest in municipal waste management technology that can create digital workflows based on real-time information around collection requirements.

Web-based waste management software also tightens communication between office-based staff and collection crews, to improve local services. For example, central team members can create ad-hoc round sheets in response to community feedback, while refuse collectors can use mobile in-cab technology to report any issues they encounter along their route.

Seeing exactly what’s happening each day, and optimising processes around requirements, is the most straightforward way to stop small issues disrupting overall standards.

A platform for agile progress
Cardboard recycling is a pertinent example of how quickly the demands on local authorities can change. The key to dealing with these evolving patterns is not to look at them in isolation, but to put in a framework that encourages quick reactions and sustainable enhancement.

By investing in agile waste management software, council waste management staff will have the tools to deal with today’s cardboard chaos plus other, unforeseen challenges that develop in future.

Over 100 hundred UK local authorities are already using Whitespace work management software to create agile, effective waste management systems. To find out more, get in touch:

Whitespace Waste Management Software

Opinions expressed in this blog belong to the blogger and not necessarily to LARAC