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Staff shortages placing waste sector under intense strain

There has been plenty of recent coverage about the impact that the HGV driver shortage is having on the UK’s supply chains.  

Logistics companies are under serious pressure, and leading retailers including supermarkets, restaurant chains and department stores have expressed concerns about stock deliveries and supply in the run up to Christmas. 

While much of the attention has focused on empty shelves and missing menu items, it is important to note that other sectors are also struggling with the effects of the ongoing staff shortage.  

The waste sector, including Casepak, has been hit by the ongoing nationwide shortage of HGV drivers, a situation made worse by Covid (which has meant a backlog of HGV driving tests) and Brexit, which has seen some drivers and agency workers move back to EU countries.  

Casepak typically employs around 90 agency staff per day at the MRF and CPF, working either a day or night shift. At present we estimate that we are 75 agency workers short of the required pool to fill our shifts, which continues to put our operations and staff under intense strain. 

Jacob Smith, MRF Operations Manager, said: “Simply put the staff shortage is having a profound effect on our operations – our processes are running more slowly, which means a lower volume of material throughput per hour and ultimately a loss of production. Despite this Casepak are still performing to high standards and adhering to all site policies and procedures.  

“Casepak has been heavily stretched for staff over the past month and we are now seeing the full extent of this crisis. The tipping floor is extremely full due to the impact on production, and there are, understandably, longer turnaround times for haulage which is exacerbating the national driver shorter by delaying vehicles on site. 

“Agencies are struggling to find temporary staff because the market is so much more competitive now. Drivers are leaving for bonuses and better wages elsewhere or demanding more money to stay. Although Casepak has increased our wages by a record amount, we are still struggling to fill our vacancies.   

“The current situation is not sustainable and the waste sector needs urgent help from Government – for example, relaxing immigration rules to allow more workers to return to the UK, and schemes to help increase the number of HGV drivers (such as helping unemployed people to retrain).  Casepak is far from the only waste or recycling company struggling to recruit enough staff and if the situation is not improved soon, we could all be in for a very discontented winter.”