'One bin' appeal as fortnightly green waste collections resume

3 September 2020 

Green bin collections across South Lakeland are returning to a normal fortnightly schedule from next week.

But it may still be several weeks before collections return to pre-pandemic levels, as crews work to clear the huge tonnages built-up during lockdown.

We are appealing to residents to help by considering how much green waste they present now that the full collection service has resumed – and we are asking that only one green bin per household is put out for collection over the next few weeks.

Councillor Philip Dixon, SLDC’s portfolio holder for Customer and Commercial Services, explained: “We suspended all green waste collections in April in response to reduced staffing levels due to the Coronavirus outbreak and restrictions to ensure crews could work safely and comply with social distancing guidelines.

“We were able to reintroduce a monthly green waste collection from May and this continued through June. For the past few weeks we’ve been trialling a full reintroduction, getting crews back up to full strength with appropriate PPE in place and assessing collection volumes on the rounds.

“What has become apparent is that there has been a huge increase in green waste, even compared to the same period in previous years. Understandably, lots of people have been busy in their gardens during lockdown, especially during the fine spell of weather. As a result we have seen massive tonnages of green waste being picked up in the last month, even though we hadn’t yet got back to a full fortnightly collection in all areas.  

“From next week we’re reintroducing the usual fortnightly green rounds across the district, so residents should be putting out their green bin according to the dates on their collection calendar.

“With the significant task of re-introducing fortnightly waste during these times,  we’re requesting everyone to help us with this by only putting out one green bin per property for the next few weeks, so we can ensure we have the best chance to make as many collections as possible.

“Some properties have more than one green bin load. It stands to reason that if all these properties fill all their green bins, plus additional side waste, and put all this out for collection in the same week then our wagons will fill up very quickly, meaning some residents further on in the round may not get any collection at all.

“Now that we are back to a full fortnightly service, if all residents only present one green bin per household for the next six weeks we estimate that we can clear the build-up and have a reasonable chance of getting back to the pre-pandemic collection levels, where 99.8% of waste and recycling collections were made on the scheduled day.’’

Householders are also asked to note that the crews will not empty bins that are too heavy for the lifting gear on the wagons and will not be taking any bagged green waste left at the side of the green bin, to further ensure that the wagons don’t fill up with extra side waste, so there’s enough capacity to be able to offer everyone a collection in the next few weeks.

Residents should also be mindful that collections may also be subject to disruption over the coming weeks and months due to the ongoing Coronavirus emergency.

In common with all businesses, our waste and recycling operatives could at any time be subject to self-isolation restrictions through the national track and trace programme, meaning uncertainty over staffing levels and possible impact on services.

Councillor Dixon continued: “We are trying to return to some form of normality with our collections, but things are still far from normal.

“If just one of our operatives is contacted by track and trace then that would mean that all that crew would need to self-isolate, even if they test negative for the virus. That could obviously have a knock-on effect on our ability to complete rounds on any given day.

“We have worked hard throughout the pandemic to maintain our collection services and our teams have worked tirelessly to reintroduce green collections as soon as practicable.

“I’m sure our residents appreciate those efforts and I’m hoping they will also understand why we still need some assistance from our communities and understand the reasons for this request. If every household only presents one green bin for the next few weeks’ collections then that will hopefully be the fairest way to ensure we can get back to normal as quickly as we can.’’