Residents in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire are being given advance warning that fortnightly green bin collections could be disrupted in the weeks ahead due to the pandemic causing staff shortages – though collections remain as scheduled for now.
The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service is currently unable to secure enough agency workers to cover all absences. This is because agency workers are in higher demand in roles such as supermarket workers due to the number of people currently needing to self-isolate.
The service regularly uses agency workers to cover absences and annual leave from a very physical role, which sees them walk on average 13 miles per day.
A small number of the bin collection crew are also currently needing to self-isolate after either being contacted by NHS Test and Trace or alerted via the NHS COVID-19 app. The Shared Waste Service is considering how Thursday evening’s Government announcement that fully vaccinated critical workers would be able to leave self-isolation for work in exceptional circumstances and if it could help support our operations.
Residents are being advised that fortnightly green bin collections are continuing for now, but there is the chance they will be altered or suspended in the weeks ahead.
This would allow remaining crews to concentrate on emptying blue and black bins during the coming weeks.
If any changes to the schedule are needed the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service will let residents, parish councils and residents associations know, and keep people up to date via the two councils’ websites and social media channels.
As always, residents are being encouraged to waste as little food as possible, so they minimise the amount they need to throw away. For this period only, the advice to residents who do have food waste will be to put it into the black bin to prevent food waste building-up if there is a need for green bins frequency to be reduced.
Residents who enjoy spending time in the garden and growing their own food are also being asked to consider home composting as much of their garden waste as possible.
Nationally, other Councils have already suspended green bin collections due to staff shortages and councillors are reiterating that teams will continue to do everything they can to try and reduce any disruptions.
Cllr Rosy Moore, Cambridge City Council's Executive Councillor for Environmental Services and City Centre, added: “We want to let residents know that – at this stage – green bin collections are continuing as per our normal schedule. However, we also wanted to highlight that there is a chance this could change in the days or weeks ahead. Agency staff are hard to come-by as they are in-demand elsewhere – such as in shops which are struggling with staff due to self-isolation issues. We were already recruiting for refuse loaders and HGV drivers so if you are interested in these roles – or know someone who is – please get in touch with us.”
Cllr Brian Milnes, South Cambridgeshire District Council's Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing, said: “Residents can help by trying their very best to minimise the amount of food that they are throwing out and trying not to generate garden waste for now. It would also be a big help to our hardworking loaders, who walk the equivalent of a half marathon every shift, if those whose bins don’t have much waste inside can wait until it is full before putting it out – if they think they can manage until their next collection. Thanks for bearing with us. Dozens of councils nationally have been forced to suspend green waste collections already but we are doing our very best to keep them going.”
For more information about waste and recycling including which items can be recycled and how, and to see tailored bin collection calendars, Cambridge residents can visit www.cambridge.gov.uk/bins and South Cambridgeshire residents can visit www.scambs.gov.uk/bins
The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Council, was already recruiting for Refuse Loaders and HGV drivers. Full details are at: www.scambs.gov.uk/jobs/current-vacancies