At a recent meeting between Epping Forest District Council and its waste collection contractor, Biffa, the latter explained that they had experienced an ‘unprecedented’ 32% employee turnover in the 12 months to July as a result of the national shortage of qualified HGV drivers and loaders.

The council also heard that many of the vehicles in use are ‘getting older and more prone to breakdowns’. Global supply chain problems have made repair and replacement much harder, Biffa explained, and available replacements are often less suitable.

Biffa has spent more than £600,000 on agency staff and £169,000 on replacement vehicle hire to help fill the gaps. It has also brought in a brand new unbudgeted 26 tonne recycling collection vehicle and a new management team to run the contract.

Nigel Avey, cabinet portfolio holder for contracts at Epping Forest District Council, said: ‘Waste collection is a tough and dirty job. I want to thank our crews for the hard work they do, keeping our district safe and clean.

‘I also want to apologise to those residents affected by missed collections in recent months. The service has performed below the high standards we expect. We are facing national problems. There are no easy fixes, but we are working with Biffa every day to improve the situation.’