Addressing The Operational Challenges of HWRC Networks

Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) play a vital role in the collection and recycling of domestic waste. Around 1,000 sites operate across the UK, processing over 5 million tonnes of waste each year.

From the outside these look like simple operations. Waste from households is deposited in

segregated bulk containers, then taken to recycling centres for further processing.

Managing these operations means balancing a number of competing demands:

● The need to increase recycling rates - last measured at around 60% on average

● Customer service – optimising the experience of site users

● Cost management – local authority budgets are under constant pressure

A number of challenges make this a more difficult job than it appears.

Fluctuating Demand

Demand for HWRC services is difficult to predict, the weather being a major factor. Good weather increases demand as householders clear the garden or garage, creating queues and bottlenecks that HWRC operators are often unprepared for. The opposite also applies - bad weather means that people stay at home.

This makes resourcing decisions for HWRC Operators difficult. Deploy too many staff and vehicles and some will sit idle. Too few and the sites can become quickly overrun, which impacts customer service and has been shown to reduce recycling rates, for example if the cardboard container is full, visitors tend to use the general waste bin instead which goes to landfill or incineration.

Poor Operational Visibility

Transport planning is a major challenge for HWRC operators, as the operation needs to be able to service a network of local sites dynamically in order run efficiently. A lack of visibility as to where demand is arising at each site and what vehicles are doing leads to poor vehicle utilisation and excess cost.

Container visibility is also a problem. Operators don’t know how many containers they have or often where they are, resulting in unnecessary journeys to locate them and service interruptions when an empty container isn’t available to replace a full one.

Manual Systems

Underpinning these challenges is the lack of a system to provide visibility and insight as to how the operation is performing. Operations are typically planned and delivered using basic, manual processes. Technology has left HWRC networks behind.

The Impact

This problem has a very significant cost, estimated at up to £50 million PA in excess transport and container expenditure, thousands of tonnes of CO2 produced, compromised service to HWRC users and ultimately a reduction in recycling rates.

Our Solution

PIN has invested time to understand this problem. Our conclusion is that new technology can provide the answer that the industry needs. Our data shows that demand can be predicted and resources optimised whilst maintaining service.

The development of our solution is nearing completion and will be launched to the UK market early in 2022. It delivers real-time visibility of HWRC operations, with every container and vehicle movement tracked automatically, every transaction digitally captured, and historical data provided via intuitive reports to assist forward planning.

It is already operational across a network of sites in partnership with a forward-thinking Scottish council, enabling large-scale improvement.

We can’t wait to tell you more. Contact us at for more information and a solution demo.

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