'Not fit for purpose': Camden refuse collectors call for lorry improvements 

A broken down bin lorry in Camden getting towed away

A broken down bin lorry in Camden getting towed away - Credit: Saskia Rowlands

Refuse collectors in Camden are calling for urgent action to remove “very poor vehicles” from their contract. 

Split-back lorries, which collect recycling and food waste in the same vehicle, were introduced as part of a new contract between Camden Council and resource management company Veolia in 2017.

But collectors have told the Ham&High the vehicles are “really not fit for purpose”, and have increased their workload. 

One worker, Graham (not his real name), said: “The recycling side of the lorry is not big enough to take the whole round, and the food waste side barely gets filled, so we’ve literally got a whole wasted side of a lorry.

“The crews are snookered because the lorry can only empty one bin at a time, and there are often three, four or five recycling bins per house.”

When it launched the new contract, Veolia said its priority was “maintaining high service standards and delivering solutions to increase efficiency”, but workers say the opposite has happened. 

Paul (not his real name), said: “After an hour in to our shift, one side of the lorry will always break down because they can’t withstand the weight of the recycling.

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“It’s getting to a point now where because this is happening so frequently, they're having to suspend certain rounds, so we’ve got four rounds a day sometimes not going out.”

A broken down bin lorry in Camden getting towed away

A broken down bin lorry in Camden getting towed away - Credit: Saskia Rowlands

Collectors say they warned the council and Veolia of the problems when the new vehicles were first introduced, but their opinions were disregarded. 

“We told them right from the get go that these vehicles are no good, they’re really not fit for purpose, but were told its not our responsibility to think about it”, said Graham. 

“At the end of the day we can only work with what we've got. We’re working with very poor vehicles and nobody is coming up with an answer.”

Camden Council and Veolia issued a joint statement saying: “Camden’s current fleet of collection vehicles were introduced in 2017 and are serviced every six weeks.

"Their split-back collection design allows for both recycling materials and non-recyclable rubbish to be collected at the same time, improving the efficiency of our pick-ups and reducing environmental impact as only one vehicle is required to make the journey rather than two.”

A broken down bin lorry in Camden getting towed away

A broken down bin lorry in Camden getting towed away - Credit: Saskia Rowlands

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