In May 2020, like many other local authorities, NLWA introduced a booking system for visits to our reuse and recycling centres (RRCs). It was one of several measures taken to support residents and colleagues at our RRCs to maintain space and keep safe. Other measures included reduced unloading bays, additional cleaning, training for staff, use of additional signage and PPE. These measures were introduced after a short national shut down of the RRC network in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A visitor survey has confirmed that the booking system has been well received. The system also had the following benefits:
- It gave us the flexibility to adjust controls as COVID-19 levels of infection changed, striking the balance between accessibility for residents and maintaining safe arrangements on sites.
- It has largely eliminated the need for queuing outside RRCs which led to the timing of visits being unpredictable for residents. This helps minimise vehicle emissions and nuisance caused to nearby pedestrians and residents.
- Experience has shown that the booking system has reduced instances of commercial businesses illegally bringing waste for disposal at RRCs. Treating commercial waste for free represents a cost to north London residents.
- The booking system allows us to reserve spaces in other sites in the rare event that an RRC has to close, enabling us to notify planned visitors and assure them that their booking transferred to another site.
- Allows us to manage resources more efficiently. For instance, we can better predict when containers will be full and allocate heavy goods vehicles accordingly.
As COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, NLWA carried out a review of the booking system and took the decision to retain the system at all NLWA RRCs. However, we are working with contractors, LondonEnergy Ltd and Bywaters, to improve the functionality of the system. Improvements will include:
- Half an hour booking slots to further smooth peaks associated with the beginning of the hour.
- Removing the requirement to book the day before the proposed visit.
- The continuation of a phone booking system to support residents with limited access to digital platforms.
- Digital Tablets at sites that will allow residents to book in real time and use the sites if slots are available.