Thu, May 12, 2022


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Highland Council discusses bin collection route optimisation with residents

The Highland Council is responsible for the Scottish Highlands, the (geographically) largest local government area in the United Kingdom. Responsible for a population of over 235,000 dispersed over 25,656 km² of challenging terrain, the council certainly has to put a lot of thought into the efficiency of its essential services, such as refuse and recycling collection routes.

The council recently published an article on its website, entitled ‘Bin Collections Route Optimisation – Badenoch & Strathspey’, which was upfront in its use of the language of operational research, analytics and data science:

“The Highland Council is currently reviewing the waste and recycling collection routes across the Highland Council region to help improve the efficiency of the collection vehicles. The review will help to reduce carbon emissions and improve fuel efficiency from the refuse collection vehicles by mapping new efficient and balanced collection routes.

“A phased approach is being adopted when implementing the new routes with Badenoch & Strathspey being the first area to be programmed.”

This is encouraging for lots of reasons: first, the council is making use of experts (either employed or consulting) to make their bin collection routes as efficient as possible; secondly, the council is sufficiently embedded in the language that it is natural for them to included it in their communications materials; thirdly, that they are savvy enough to realise that it makes good PR to celebrate the benefits of this kind of operational research; and fourthly, they avoid doing a disservice to the general public of the Highlands by not dumbing down their communications.

The council’s Executive Chief Officer – Communities and Place, Allan Gunn, explained further: “By utilising specialist software, we have managed to improve the performance of the waste and recycling collection vehicles whilst ensuring there is minimal disruption to residents’ and businesses bin collections.”

He continued, “with the number of households in Highland projected to rise over the coming years – ensuring that we can continue to deliver waste and recycling collections to these additional properties using the existing refuse collection fleet is a vital contribution to the council’s long term financial sustainability & carbon reductions.”

The OR Society looks forward to more councils, authorities and departments using the language of operational research more openly.

Read the original article on the Highland Council website.