Waste and recycling services are among the most visible services councils run. Resident satisfaction levels with local waste management can be a barometer for overall satisfaction with the council. Councils have financial incentives to reduce landfill through the landfill tax, and there are the wider issues of tackling climate change through increasing recycling and discouraging flytipping. It follows that excellent digital services to support council activity in this area, including good information about the range of recycling options should be a high priority. It is also the case that rubbish and recycling is the single most important category for enquiries to council websites, and growing, accounting for more than 17% of visits according to data from Socitm’s Website Performance service.
County councils in England only.
This task was tested for all sites on a an iPhone 6 Plus. Generally county councils perform well on this task, with 78% providing a good or very good service, despite the known challenges of presenting information on mobile devices, especially where it involves a map facility. One council that performed well in all other respects slipped down to 2 stars because it had not updated information about closure of one of its facilities. We make no apology for this: failing to update this sort of information will seriously inconvenience any customers who end up making wasted journeys with cars loaded with rubbish.
Check ‘coverage’ to see if your council has been surveyed. Go to councils page and select your council. Look for link to task report under 2016-17 results
Provide a good or very good online service based on this survey
Better connected rankings
*Discrepancies in the figures are due to rounding off
Last time this task was tested, in 2013, only two councils failed (ie got 2 or 1 stars by 2015-16 measures). The key difference this time is that the task was tested on a mobile phone. Four of the five councils that got two stars or less had not optimised their sites for mobile, and this impacted significantly on the user experience.
However testing these sites also showed other deficiencies, including over-wordy content, jargon and even broken links. This neglect is surprising given the importance of providing easy access to information that encourages citizens to recycle, particularly in rural areas where flytipping is a costly problem to resolve.
Some of the higher performing sites that had otherwise mobile-friendly sites had not optimized their maps for mobile use, which is a shame when you think of likely customer scenarios – for example, needing to consult a map while on the way to the tip.
It is good to see that the two councils that failed this task last time have now achieved 4 stars, one of them, Suffolk being picked out by our reviewer for particular praise. Other sites recommended highly include Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Nottinghamshire.
Individual questions from our survey that performed least well were Is it clear how you might obtain assistance if required? (66.7%) where we are looking for a waste-specific contact details and not just the council switchboard, and Is information given about other recycling options? (70.4%) where such information will facilitate re-use of unwanted household items to encourage residents to reduce local reliance on landfill as a method of disposal.
Recommended and commended sites (see below) all had particular features that made the customer experience really easy, or just went that extra mile with information about, for example, facilities for disabled people or interactive maps.
To help site visitors find the task:
To help site visitors complete the task:
Additional information might include: webcams showing the present numbers and queues of customers and/or a short video that explains how to use the recycling centre and any ancillary services available on site.
I think Bucks tackles a hot potato really rather well! The foot of the page about recycling centes explains why there are CCTV cameras in place and what they are used for. It's an interesting way of addressing what I am sure is a regular bone of contention at recycling centres up and down the land.
Accessibility taken into account with the provision of colourful graphic that is supported by a text version too.
I liked the list of acceptable and not accepted items for which, if individual items are clicked, further guidance is available, eg 'upon arrival at the site please ask an assistant for directions to the appropriate container'. This is going the extra mile and makes for a comprehensively useful information resource for customers.
Well promoted and Christmas opening times particularly well explained as different hours are applicable between Christmas and New Year. Special requirements for oversized vehicles are well explained, leaving no room for doubt.
Impressive consideration given to the needs of residents with disabilities wishing to use the facilities available at each recycling centre. Thoughtful and considerate.
This site really does go the extra mile in providing useful information to the customer. On the location map I can click for additional site information (see Q6 comment) and, in addition to the location map each recycling centre has a site plan included so that you can see before you arrive where all the relevant bins or receptacles are situated. It even suggests you keep a copy of this plan in your car to aid future visits to the site. Brilliant stuff.
Well done to Suffolk for the very clear statement on the service landing pages providing a definition of Household Waste Recycling Centres. I wish other councils would be so explicit in explaining their titling.
eg business waste facility at Guildford Community Recycling Centre.
Warwickshire offer an innovative interactive recycling map whereby you indicate what you wish to recycle and the map displays the locations in the county that will accept your items.
Leicestershire deploy a very clear, indeed unmissable, orange call to action about using a van or trailer to take rubbish to the tip - see http://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/find-a-recycling-and-household-waste-site/oadby-recycling-and-household-waste-site. I think that's a great way of drawing attention to the fact that you need to take special action if you are going to rock up with either. I’m sure that vans or cars with trailers are denied access fairly regularly so council should ensure that information regarding this regulation is readily found on the website.