Milton Keynes City Council needed financial and commercial support in procuring a partner to collect waste, keep streets clean, and maintain council-owned green spaces and play areas.

Fast facts

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The city of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire is a unitary authority area, with city status, and has a population of circa 287,000.

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Its council announced a climate emergency in 2018 and has since committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon negative by 2050.

First area in the UK to introduce kerbside recycling (in 1992) and in the top 20% of English council areas for recycling.

First area in the UK to introduce kerbside recycling (in 1992) and in the top 20% of English council areas for recycling.

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Has aspirations to be the world’s leading sustainable city with decreasing levels of waste, and increasing the reuse and recycling of resources, being key parts of that target delivery.

The challenge

The council wished to combine several different environmental services into one contract to provide value for money. The new contract needed to seamlessly supersede the existing arrangements, with residents not experiencing any break or deterioration in service. It also needed to contribute towards the council's ambitious carbon-saving goals and align with its overarching strategy.

How we helped

Over a 15-month period we supported the council in four key areas:

  • developing financial tender and contractual documentation
  • undertaking financial evaluations of bidder submissions at all stages of the tender process
  • providing commercial input into development of the tender specification
  • supporting with the bidder engagement process.

We carefully considered the weighting of various elements of the bid specification to ensure bidders were scored highest on those areas that were most important to the council.

We coordinated with both technical and legal advisers to ensure the procurement was carried out efficiently and on deadline, giving the successful bidder sufficient time to mobilise.

“Grant Thornton has consistently displayed a commitment to achieving the best value for money outcome. They’ve added value through the exemplary innovative approaches they’ve brought to the complex issues facing us. We value their partnership style of working and deeply trust their advice, both of which are critical success factors for such complex procurements.”

Nicholas Hannon, Assistant Director, Environment, Waste & Commissioning, Milton Keynes  City Council

The results

Suez Recycling and Recovery was awarded the £300 million contract, with services commencing in September 2023. 

We provided additional value during the dialogue phase of the procurement, through:

  • introducing one of our team members with a background in commercial waste, allowing us to fully discern the bidders’ aims
  • providing a sounding board for the council, to help assess the impact of proposed amendments made by the bidders.

We've since been further engaged to develop the management information templates for the Milton Keynes Waste Recovery Park with a view to helping the council understand the operational performance and drivers.

Following successful implementation of the waste collection project, the council expects to be in the top 10% of English councils for recycling.


“Milton Keynes City Council has been a great client to work with. Their commitment and drive to delivering a clean and pleasant environment for their residents aligns closely with the purpose of our public services advisory team of 'improving public services for people and places'.”

Neil Peckett, Associate Director, Public Services Advisory

About our team

This project was delivered by our Net Zero advisory team, a specialist team within our public sector advisory offering. It comprises specialists in energy, utilities and investment in low-carbon technologies with backgrounds across government, consulting and industry.

Emma O’Hare

Emma O’Hare