The unsung heroes of the Covid pandemic

HOUSEHOLD waste has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the Environmental Services Association (ESA), every household in the country produces an estimated one tonne of rubbish a year. Thanks to employees in the waste and recycling sector, it was all dealt with.

The working conditions in the waste and recycling business can be harsh, with staff working long and irregular hours to handle tonnes of material. They require machines that perform a wide variety of tasks, such as lifting, loading and tipping material as diverse as green waste, metal, plasterboard, sand and wood.

Approximately 60% of the industry is made up of small and medium sized companies, including Musselburgh-based Hamilton Waste & Recycling. The company is led by Haig Hamilton and his two sons, Keir and David. The business was crowned best waste and recycling management firm in Scotland in 2019 by BUILD UK. Since then, the entire team has been working hard to combat the challenges of the pandemic.

“The waste sector is a tough working environment, which takes its toll on the equipment we use,” Haig explained. “We needed a partner who could support our business with technology that would make the work safer, easier and more productive. We found that partner in Finning UK & Ireland.”

With the support of Finning, Hamilton is gradually replacing a large part of its fleet with both new and used machines. It purchased two new Cat 313FL excavators, two new wheel loaders (938M and 950GC), three material handlers (two MH3024s and a MH3026) and two D6T dozers.

Hamilton also invested in some of the used equipment that Finning offers — a 938M waste wheel loader, 950GC wheel loader and two D6T dozers. All in all, the company is estimated to have invested £1.5 million.

“Some of these machines are new, others have come from a rental fleet, but all have a warranty and service contract and are connected to Cat VisionLink, the asset management platform from Caterpillar,” Haig added. “With this new equipment, we can monitor the cycle time, fuel burn and mechanical condition of the machines at all times.”

Andy Gordon, territory account manager at Finning UK & Ireland, explained that David and Keir were invited to a waste and recycling seminar at the Caterpillar Learning and Demonstration Centre in Malaga, Spain.

“Here, they could try out a range of machines from the Caterpillar line-up, and I’m glad to say they were impressed,” he added. “We certainly gave them the yellow injection!”

The Hamiltons particularly liked the new joystick steering. Because they work in the waste and recycling yard every day, Finning said they very quickly discovered the easy usability of the Cat machines.

The intuitive handling of the machines with a joystick has been tipped to make the life of Hamilton employees a little lighter for years to come.

“Even now, a Finning representative is on the phone with us once a week, the fluid analysis laboratory takes regular samples to monitor the conditions of the machines and the servicing is faultless,” Haig added. “It is this high level of service that makes Finning UK & Ireland such an irreplaceable partner for the Hamilton family.”

The women and men working in the waste and recycling industry continue to offer an invaluable service and it is companies like Hamilton that keep the environment and the streets of the UK clean. The outcome of the pandemic remains uncertain, but the heroic work of waste and recycling workers will remain important to us all.