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Cambridge City Council

Return of green bin collections

10 January 2022

Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire residents are being asked to put their green bins out as normal from Wednesday 12 January, with waste crews working to empty as many as possible each day. 

Green bin collections will be restarting on that date – but residents are being asked to bear with the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service which is still dealing with COVID-related absences and driver vacancies. Although the intention is to empty all green bins as per the published post-Christmas schedule, it is likely that crews won’t be able to reach all properties. As part of ongoing work to bring the service back up to normal, it will not be possible to report any missed green bin collections in January.  

Green bin collections were paused on Monday 13 December. This was due to staff shortages because of COVID-related reasons (sickness and self-isolation), along with a continued national shortage of HGV drivers, plus a lack of agency staff because of demand for them elsewhere such as in supermarkets and at online delivery services.  

As green bin collections restart, residents are being asked to put them out on their published collection days, taking the usual post-festive season bin day changes into account. Households can check their online bin collection calendar for details  

However, because there are still several absences and vacancies, despite an ongoing recruitment campaign at Greater Cambridge Shared Waste, any green bins that are missed will not be emptied until the next scheduled collection in February. This is because there are not enough waste crews to return to empty these missed green bins. Any homes that are unfortunately missed will be prioritised for the subsequent collection. 

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre at Cambridge City Council said: “The Coronavirus pandemic – and the much more transmissible Omicron variant – has had a huge impact across the country and our Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service is no different. Our initial aim was to restart green bin collections in January and I’m pleased that we are able to do this. But there is a note of caution that, although our crews will clearly be trying their very best to empty every green bin on the schedule, due to short-notice absences of staff related to COVID-19 there is a chance this may not be possible. This is why it will, for the moment, not be possible to report a missed green bin. I’d like to thank all our residents who have been so understanding of the short-notice changes that we’ve had to make.” 

Cllr Brian Milnes, Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing at South Cambridgeshire District Council said: “Residents have been incredibly supportive of our hard-working refuse crews throughout the pandemic – and we really appreciate that. We understand that residents have been without their green bin collections for some time now and are pleased to be offering this service once again. But please do bear with us – our crews are working as hard as they can. The main message is to put your green bin out on its scheduled collection day, and we will do everything we can to empty it. But if we don’t have the crews to empty it, I’m afraid it’ll have to wait until the next scheduled collection. Minimising food and garden waste will help too; now really is the time to ensure you are only buying the food you’ll eat – and looking into home composting if you do have some leftovers you can’t use up.” 

If a missed green bin causes an especially difficult issue for a resident, such as someone who is elderly, disabled or receives an assisted collection, they are asked to call their Council to discuss their individual situation.

Cambridge City Council: 01223 457 000 

South Cambridgeshire District Council: 01954 713 000 

Greater Cambridge Shared Waste, a partnership between Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils, collects household waste and recycling from around 123,000 properties. 


Frequently asked questions

1. Why can you not guarantee normal collections from 12 January? 

Staffing levels among our bin crew drivers and loaders are still not at 100%. As a result, we cannot commit to completing all green collections rounds. We are doing our very best to empty green bins as per the published schedule, but this is dependent on staff capacity, which is changing every day. Also, following the recent suspension of green bins, the amount of garden/food waste inside them will be greater than normal. This means they will be heavier, which will in turn make them harder to empty and therefore reduce the number of bins that can be emptied. We are using all the resources available to us to empty as many green bins as possible, and thank you for your patience.

2. If all other green bins on my street were emptied but not mine, why can I not report it as missed? 

As we are using all of our available refuse loaders, drivers and vehicles to try and complete all streets within our green bin rounds, we do not have any crews left over to follow-up and empty any that unfortunately have been missed. We appreciate and understand this is not ideal. 

If a missed green bin causes an especially difficult issue for a resident, such as someone who is elderly, disabled or receives an assisted collection, they are asked to call their Council to discuss their individual situation.

Cambridge City Council: 01223 457 000 

South Cambridgeshire District Council: 01954 713 000

3. When will I be able to report a missed green bin? 

We will be monitoring the staffing levels closely and once we have reached a stable level, we will advise you on when the service is operating as normal and the reporting of missed green bins can re-commence.

4. Why did you not stop the black bin service instead?


Collection of general rubbish is a mandatory service. We also know that the majority of people still put their food waste in their black bins, not their green bins, so it is important to try and maintain this collection. Guidance from Central Government states that council should prioritise this service.


5. Will I get a refund on my Council Tax?


No, as we are still providing a statutory collection service and your Council Tax does not just pay for bin collections. Most of the tax collected is passed on to the County Council to pay for schools; roads (including gritting); public transport; public health advice; street lighting; social services such as safeguarding children, supporting disabled people and caring for the elderly. 


6. I have an additional green bin that I pay for - will I get a refund?


The £40 paid for the current year October 2021 to September 2022 will not be refunded. However, the charge for existing permit holders next year will be reviewed once we know the full scale of the disruptions. With the monthly collections throughout Winter, at present only one collection will be missed.


7. What else can I do with my garden waste?

  • Any garden waste you have should be kept in the garden until collections resume.
  • Please do not burn your garden waste as this damaged the local air quality and can be detrimental to those with breathing difficulties.
  • Please only put garden waste in your black bin if you have to. Please keep it for when the green bin collections resume.