With council cutbacks in all the headlines will people be turning to self-service waste disposal?

The concept of self-service initiatives as a means of saving money are nothing new. Forward thinking businesses have been the self-service method as a means of saving money and streamlining processes to themselves for many years now and the same techniques could be used by local councils to help fund the cutbacks they are all warning about.

The basic premise of a self-service process is that the customer reduces the cost of a service he or she is using by doing some of it themselves. In commercial circles HR (Human Resources) departments have been using self-service in areas like recruitment, benefits administration and expenses management for many years already.

In the case of expenses management, instead of completing a paper from and sending to your manage with a bunch of receipts to back up the claim, forms are completed by the employee online and routed electronically through an approval process.

So how does this new world of self-service apply to waste disposal? Well we are already par way down that road, given that most people have to take excess waste and larger items to the local tip themselves. Councils are also forcing people to sort and store items for recycling themselves, rather than the councils doing this after collection.

The next logical step, if councils are looking to save even more money would be for people to deliver their waste to a collection point themselves or at least make do with fewer at-home collections, leaving people to serve themselves by visiting a central amenity centre with any excess.

Of course the issue of fly-tipping always raises its ugly head when anything like this is debated. Most people are fairly conscientous when it comes to waste disposal, but not everyone is. Dumping rubbish by the roadside or placing it in skips hired by neighbours is becoming more common, so any self-service scheme will have to be accompanied with plans that consider the unfortunate side-effects.

But make no mistake, waste disposal consumes a significant proportion of any council's financial resources, so is a prime target when cost cutting is considered. Skip hire companies will be looking on with interest and may be planning for an upturn in business if these self-service initiatives see the light of day.

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