From the front lines...
How has it truly been for UK waste companies battling the realities of 2020? Our director of recycling, Paul Rendle-Barnes, looked back over the past year and shared his thoughts with Skip Hire Magazine.
If you missed the original article, you can catch up below...
What measures has your company had to take to weather the lockdown period?
At the start of the first lockdown period back in March, Indigo Environmental quickly implemented a range of initiatives to help keep staff safe throughout the pandemic. These were carried out throughout the summer and are continuing now during ‘the second lockdown’.
The measures were primarily put in place to protect our greatest asset, our workforce, and secondly, to maintain the high standard of service to our clients – while keeping the business profitable.
These changes include splitting the shift teams to ensure no crossover and minimised contact, increasing hygiene points – i.e. hand sanitiser – and routine cleaning of all communal areas. We also offer daily temperature testing for all colleagues. In addition, we’re maintaining the ban on non-critical site visits – and any critical ones are restricted to one area with no socialising, with all personnel sticking to the Government’s two-metre-distance advice, at all times. Like many other businesses, we’ve also turned to digital technology to help us carry on with our employee and customer relations – while unable to travel – introducing frequent Zoom meetings to our daily schedule.
We anticipate all these initiatives to remain in place through Q1 and Q2 in 2021.
What disruption did you see during the initial lockdown, and then in the months following them?
Near the start of the lockdown, our industry was granted ‘key worker status’ by the Government – something we are immensely proud of. So, for us, it’s been business as usual – or unusual – as much as possible, but with increased sanitisation and colleague protection protocols being our top priorities.
Initially, the main ‘disruption’ was an increase in enquiries for our plastic recycling services. While the automotive field witnessed a deceleration in activity – due to supplier shutdowns – the food waste sector has remained busy as ever throughout, as distributors have had to increase capacity to counter panic-buying.
From a business perspective, here at Indigo Environmental, we have a reputation for moving quickly and embracing change. And, as we’ve been fortunate that most of our team members have remained healthy, we’ve kept ‘all hands on deck’ and have been able to continue supporting clients’ evolving needs. It’s continuous regular communication with our customers that’s allowed us to be agile and flexible to their requirements too.
How well has your company been able to weather the storm of the coronavirus crisis so far?
While dealing with a complex storm of coronavirus, commodity pricing reductions, high demand for our finished products and an increased offering of polymer feedstock, all areas needed specific interventions and actions. At Indigo Environmental, we’re happy to say that we’re expecting to complete the year on budget, but this is down to the efforts of the entire workforce, all of whom have continued to pull together and respond to challenges as they arise – a huge thank you goes out to the team!
Do you believe the crisis has opened opportunities as well as challenges for the waste and recycling industry?
Yes, without a doubt – I believe that any period of change brings opportunities. Sustainability, innovation, and the circular economy are key change drivers demanded by end users, and the pandemic has brought about – and continues to encourage – innovation and collaboration in industry at a record rate.
Here at Indigo, we’ve refined and continued our investment plans – with some exciting innovations and developments planned for the Group over the months ahead – and we look forward to sharing these throughout the course of 2021.