Service reviews and benchmarking

Local authority waste management service reviews are a beneficial method of establishing finance and resource savings. Ricardo Energy & Environment has a widely-experienced team of consultants with particular expertise in carrying out service reviews to local authorities, using robust modelling to underpin the review.

We recognise that local authorities are under constant pressure to reduce the costs of operating their waste management service, whilst at the same time being expected to deliver improved performance and match ambitious targets emanating from central government and beyond.

Ricardo Energy & Environment can perform a range of service reviews, as listed below:

Kerbside Analysis Toolkit (KAT)

KAT allows a local authority to forecast the likely performance and cost of potential operational changes to their kerbside waste and recycling collections. Like all models, KAT relies on the quality of its inputs, and, for KAT, these can be either default values or an authority’s real-life data, which enhances the results to provide more accuracy. Ricardo Energy & Environment can work with local authorities to model a complete or part-service, as we understand that a service change may not be uniform across an authority.

Ghost Bids and Soft Market Testing

A Ghost Bid offers a valuable indication of the likely private sector tendering price of a service prior to its procurement. Essentially, the identified resources required for each collection or street cleansing option, coupled with the authority’s real life internal costs, are fed into a financial model. This generates a projected total cost to deliver the services, giving consideration to staff, vehicles, any income generated, cost avoidance, fuel, contractor margins and overheads etc.

Soft Market Testing (SMT) is performed by making contact with a selection of waste collection contractors and gauging their interest in an upcoming contract, how they would like the contract to be packaged and an indication of the potential barriers to procurement. An SMT exercise is carried out in confidence to protect the authority specifics and unwanted direct contact.

Productivity Reviews

One way of identifying inefficient services is to assess the utilisation of collection vehicles or the performance of collection crews in a productivity review. Using bespoke modelling, Ricardo Energy & Environment can dissect local authority data to assess whether collection rounds can be optimised and compare the number of collections carried out per crew per day against industry standard levels.


Benchmarking provides a useful means of measuring performance in waste and recycling collection and street cleansing services. Ricardo Energy & Environment can assess key characteristics such as the number of operatives, number of vehicles and cost of the service (normalised to allow fair comparison) against those of comparable authorities (chosen based on criteria such as the number of households, population, size of area etc.). Benchmarking can highlight areas of over-resourcing and inefficiencies in service delivery.


TEEP is a topic of varying concern to local authorities with the responsibility for providing waste and recycling collection services. The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations require that, as from 1 January 2015, waste collection organisations must collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separately, where it is technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP), and appropriate to meet ‘the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors’. During 2014 Ricardo Energy & Environment have helped a number of local authorities with service reviews that have included the modelling of different collection methodologies and we have ‘bolted on’ TEEP considerations. We have also provided bespoke TEEP support to a number of councils. Read more….


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