Garden waste gets a spring clean

Brighton & Hove City Council’s garden waste collection service is a digitally-enabled success.

We put the whole process for getting garden waste collections online because you expect to do everything via the web nowadays – why should council services be any different?

When I started working here in January, I assumed council staff would be reluctant to embrace digital transformation. But the entrepreneurial spirit of the people at Cityclean, the council’s department for rubbish and recycling, has given me a new perspective.

Cityclean have created a new service from scratch and together with us, the council’s Digital First team, we have made it simpler for customers to pay for their subscriptions via the council’s website.

You may have seen Cityclean’s garden waste collection bins around the city

In its first year the garden waste collection service generated £239,000 in new revenue – which covers the cost of delivering the service. One month into the second year, 85% of customers due to renew have done so. The vast majority have renewed via the website, responding to our automatically generated renewal email – which has saved a lot of admin time.

We are also aiming to add 1,000 new customers in the second year. So far we’ve got 850.

This means that Cityclean’s garden waste collection service is on course to deliver £1.7m in revenue over a five year period. This money pays for the service without any call on council funding.

Not bad, but you may say there is nothing particularly innovative about using technology in this way. And you might be right – the technology is not what I want to draw attention to.

The interesting thing, I think, is the evidence of a changing mindset at the council – not many public sector services can boast that they have developed a digitally-enabled, self-funded business model.

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