A NEW council-owned organisation has been collecting and managing residents’ waste and recycling for the last three months during the coronavirus crisis.

Cheshire West Recycling (CWR) began running the borough’s waste and recycling service on March 29, taking over from Kier after it decided to leave the waste market.

Despite the unprecedented challenges facing all essential public services at the start of the pandemic in March, months of preparation during the winter meant CWR was able to launch seamlessly with the existing vehicles and staff.

CWR is a not-for-profit company based on co-operative principles. Its co-operative partners: residents, workforce and the Cheshire West and Chester Council, run it with a social and environmental ethos.

Its branding, co-operative principles and values were created in late 2019 when residents from across the borough, staff and council representative met to discuss starting a new organisation.

Despite ongoing challenges thrown up by Covid-19 with staff sickness and social distancing guidelines meaning the garden waste collection had to be postponed, so that remaining services could continue, CWR’s first months have been a success:

• Almost three million collections were completed in its first two months.

• More than 100 collections teams are deployed daily, completing over 60,000 collections from operational hubs in Winsford and Ellesmere Port.

• Each year, CWR will collect 53,000t of household waste, 30,000t of dry recycling, 10,000t of food waste and 33,000t of green waste.

• CWR currently provides permanent employment for more than 300 members of staff, the vast majority of whom are frontline.

• Current recycling rate performance is 58%, with less than 1.5% of household waste collected going to landfill.

Councillor Shore, deputy leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “CWR has made a strong start during a very challenging Covid-19 environment. It will continue to build upon this solid foundation.

"Over the next 10 months, CWR will obtain external accreditation on its safety standards, evidencing a shift towards a zero-harm culture.

“It will introduce employee and community representation on its board, which will ensure greater accountability and allow for sharing in collective achievements.

“It will work more efficiently to offer better solutions including greater value for its people and customers, develop a future waste strategy and new improved ways of working.

“CWR will play a key role in supporting the council’s actions in relation to the green agenda. Over the next 12 months, CWR will gather baseline data around fuel usage and driver behaviour. This strong base will allow for both financial efficiencies and a reduction in carbon emissions.”

Its interim managing director Rob Edmondson said: “CWR is committed to becoming a force for good within the community. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff have been on the frontline providing the service residents expect.

"We have also acted as community champions during these difficult times and have helped people in our community by, for example, arranging for a plumber to support elderly residents in need and assisting a number of residents in need of support following failure of their motor vehicles.”

Culture change is a key priority for CWR, which has offered agency staff permanent roles.