Initially established in 2007, Rubbish Clearance and Waste Removal Ltd is a business based in Gosport, Hampshire that specialises in domestic, commercial and industrial waste removal, specialist cleaning services, asbestos removal and disposal and rapid response services. The rapid response arm of the business also happens to encompass infection prevention and control, services which have been in some demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking an opportunity to discuss some of the challenges that his business has faced both pre-pandemic and since Covid-19 struck the UK, business owner and managing director Jim Gildea spoke out against poor practice from other operators in the waste removal industry, while explaining how the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a change in focus for the business toward being more centred around providing rapid response infection prevention and control services.
Writing for The Parliamentary Review, Gildea revealed that promoting best practice in the waste removal industry was proving a challenging endeavour, owing to various incidents of poor practice from major players in the sector which filtered down through the whole industry.
Elaborating on this point of view, Gildea said: “One of the biggest challenges we face is trying to extend this idea of best practice across our industry. We are constantly fighting against poor standards, and this ranges from small companies to large waste removal corporates.
“The fine which a well-known national company received in September 2019 for breaching waste export laws illustrates these issues clearly. This poor practice at the highest level can have extremely negative knock-on effects as those lower down the supply chain may start to believe they don’t need to follow industry regulations.”
Gildea suggested that the solution to discouraging such poor practice among smaller operators could lie in making sure waste disposal payments are made by card transactions rather than the exchanging of cash, along with ensuring change across the whole of the industry from top to bottom.
He said: “This [method of payment] would make them far more traceable and thus help to remove rogue operators. More widely, in order to ensure best practice is always implemented, whole-sector change needs to occur.”
As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the UK in 2020 and had a detrimental impact on many businesses, Gildea told the Leaders Council that the crisis had had the opposite effect on his business as demand for the company’s rapid response capabilities increased.
Gildea said: “We’ve been working flat out through Covid-19 and I’m really hopeful for the future of the business. As a company, we are geared up for infection protection, control and response services, so the period of February through to March before lockdown saw a huge increase in the volume of demand for our work.”
While rubbishing criticism of governments around the world for their response to such an unprecedented challenge, Gildea stressed that leaders had no choice but to learn lessons from the crisis by adopting a proactive approach to addressing difficulties and being ready for challenges as they arise, as opposed to a more reactive approach which culminates in a more rushed response.
“From a leadership point of view, I myself running a Covid-19 response team have seen some brilliant leadership, in terms of training, the fact we have had no equipment issues and we have had first class communication and guidance from those we’re working on behalf of. It is difficult for me when I’ve seen and heard criticism and negative opinions of leadership, because the leadership of every country in the world has had a difficult balancing act between the healthcare of the nation and the economic situation. In a purely practical implementation of infection protection and control, I have had first class oversight myself as a responder and for the business, and that has been great.
“However, I would say that we seem to act as a nation and react as a government. Rather than spending money to be prepared for a crisis in advance, we wait for it to hit us and then do something. With previous pandemics such as SARS now behind us, pandemics are one of the things we should have been prepared for and we weren’t. I believe the government carried out a training simulation exercise in 2016 which showed we weren’t prepared for a pandemic scenario and didn’t have the PPE reserves ready and waiting and we didn’t heed those lessons, and I do find that quite shocking.
“As a leader, I am very much an advocate of the approach of getting down to business early and addressing issues as and when they arise, rather than waiting to see how things pan out before taking action. In some cases, some of the clients we worked for in the early stages of the pandemic adopted the attitude of waiting for staff to test positive, rather then mitigating risks and acting when it was suspected that staff may have contracted the virus. Rather than shutting down and isolating the suspected case, they would wait for the test to come back, which at that stage was around a three-day turnaround window for results, which could have had a significant impact in spreading the virus to more people.”
Anticipating that the demand for the infection prevention, control and response services will only become greater as the pandemic wears on and even when Covid-19 itself has passed, Gildea explained that his ambition was to focus more on building up that side of his business to cater for those needs, while hoping that world leaders begin to focus more on nurturing the environment, addressing the climate emergency and putting an end to neglecting such issues, of which many people the Covid-19 outbreak itself is a symptom.
“In the future, I want to ensure we get our business and our staff through the pandemic fit and healthy. During this time and beyond, I want to focus more on the specialist cleaning and infection prevention and control arm of our business because I foresee even post-Covid there’ll be more of a demand for it due to the anxiety over future situations like this. The waste removal side of our business will also be part and parcel of that.
“In another sense for the planet, I hope the break from normality will see things change for the better and that world leaders will change things for the benefit of our environment where they can.”