For many of us, 2021 came with both major challenges and huge successes. Westminster City Council Commercial Waste Services is proud to look back on its achievements this past year.
We started the year by supporting businesses during the heart of lockdown with continued regular street cleaning, rubbish and recycling collection. Our team clears about 195,000 tonnes of waste and recycling every year, highlighting why we were designated as essential front-line workers.
Westminster City Council, in partnership with Veolia, began a three-month trial of two electric pedal tricycles which were specially designed for on-street waste collection. Whereas normal barrows used by street sweepers were able to hold up to 20kg, these battery powered trikes were able to carry up to 150kg whilst safely navigating tight streets and pedestrian areas.
Westminster City Council also won the Keep Britain Tidy award for Waste Performance of the Year, which recognises excellence and innovation in improving the quality of our local environment.
Westminster City Council attended the inaugural SMMT Electric Vehicle Conference to join forces with industry stakeholders as we continue our transition to zero emissions. The online event brought together leaders in the energy, fleet and logistics sectors to discuss the latest news in the transport industry and highlight areas of improvement for sustainable transport systems.
We were excited to share our electric refuse collection vehicle project with these influential leaders, including significant improvements, updates and additional assessment phases added after testing launched in September 2019.
June saw us promoting Circular Economy Week, which looks beyond our current make-to-waste extractive industrial model to promote renewable energy, avoid unnecessary waste and keep products and materials in use. It showcased positive initiatives and encouraged practises that would accelerate our city’s transition to a circular economy.
At Westminster City Council, we also focused on keeping our prices low for our customers. This included pausing collections with no charge for customers who had closed their premises in line with lockdown procedures, avoiding price increases on our collection charges for the year, and maintaining our flexible contracts.
We were also excited to support the reopening of the West End with our janitor service in Al Fresco dining areas. Westminster City Council accommodated for street closures around these dining areas to ensure waste collections continued without disruption.
In early July, our street cleansing team immediately acted following a diesel spill from a tanker truck that left Regent Street covered in 2,600 litres of oil. The team developed a solution to absorb and remove the oil, and during the 30+ hour clean up operation, we deployed several vehicles – including gritters and washers – and specialist staff to ensure the oil was safely removed and visitors could again enjoy the iconic retail destination.
Severe flooding mid-month also saw Westminster City Council working closely with the London Fire Brigade, Thames Water, local housing associations and other partners to manage the situation and ensure the safety of all residents and businesses. Over the course of a couple of weeks we removed over 450 tonnes of flood damaged items and waste from homes and businesses in the northern part of Westminster.
Finally, in partnership with Veolia, Westminster City Council led street cleanup throughout the Euro 2020 tournament. Large numbers of fans attending the celebrations meant significant volumes of waste and litter were deposited across the streets in the West End.
We collected 20 tonnes of waste over a period of 19 hours during and after the historic England vs. Italy final. This included the use of 20 vehicles to collect waste and carry out various cleansing activities, such as sweeping, flushing and pressure washing, to ensure our streets were safe and clean.
Our deep cleansing service isn’t limited to major events. If your premises need some rejuvenation, Westminster City Council is on hand to ensure your immediate vicinity is clean and safe.
We focused on wellbeing during the month of August, with the Nightclub team offering staff at a number of our depots tips and tricks on how to get a better night’s sleep.
We were also excited to host Executive VP of Veolia UK Gavin Graveson at our Farm Street Depot, where he met with some of our staff and spoke with them about our hard work during the pandemic.
This landmark month saw Westminster City Council and Veolia unveil a 60-strong fleet of new and upcycled electric collection vehicles. These vehicles made street cleansing services in the West End fully electric for the first time, allowing for an 89% reduction of CO2e emissions compared to a diesel fleet.
Our new electric fleet is one of the largest operated by a waste and street cleansing contract in any local authority in the UK. Replacing our old fleet with these vehicles helps us reduce emissions, improve air quality and lower noise pollution as we lead the way towards carbon neutrality.
That’s not all we did in September. In celebration of World Cleanup Day, Westminster City Council joined the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UK, Big Blue Ocean Cleanup and Royal Haskoning to clean up a stretch of the Thames foreshore in London. In one afternoon, we picked up over 80kg of plastic from the riverside which was taken to a local waste treatment facility to be recycled or sustainably processed.
A massive oil spill on Berwick Street in SoHo saw Westminster City Council take immediate action to cleanse the area. In only a day, we’d restored the street to working order, allowing for the cast and crew of TV show Slow Horses to begin filming.
In response to abuse reports of essential workers more than doubling this year, Westminster City Council supported Veolia’s StreetKind Campaign to take stronger action against individuals who abuse or endanger frontline staff.
Westminster City Council also ramped up West End clean-up activities, including additional waste enforcement, to ensure waste was presented correctly in preparation for the extra shoppers and visitors during the busy Christmas period.
We finished off 2021 with some impressive awards, including:
The National Recycling Awards Partnership for Excellence Award with Veolia, which recognised our joint campaign to safely reopen the West End following lockdown. This included 600 hours of deep cleaning across 85 locations, campaigns to attract visitors back to the area and delivery of Covid safety toolkits to local businesses.
The Public Sector Commercial Fleet of the Year Award at the Greenfleet Awards for Westminster City Council’s new electric waste collection and street cleansing fleet.
Finally, a nomination for the Unsung Hero award by the Mayfair Residents Association went out to David Nethery, one of our valued street sweepers.
2021 marked a year of change, partnership and recognition. We are so proud of our work to keep the City safe, clean and running sustainably, and we look forward to continuing our efforts throughout 2022 and into the future. To learn about ways your business can partner with Westminster City Council on our journey to a more sustainable city, download our Sustainability Guide.