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Limited green bin collection service

We began a phased re-introduction of garden waste collections on Monday 4 May.

You would usually have two green bin collections between 4 and 30 May but, due to the impact of national social distancing measures, we can only guarantee one collection.

Your guaranteed collection date will be listed in our bin collection calendar.

When there are enough staff and vehicles, we might be able to empty bins more frequently. Put your green bin out with your blue bin every fortnight, and we will empty it when we can.

The national social distancing measures outlined for waste collection services mean that each collection vehicle currently has a driver and only one loader (the crew member who loads the bins onto the lorry), rather than the usual driver plus two loaders. This ensures enough space is left between staff when travelling, but means what would normally be one week’s work could be spread across two weeks.

Frequently asked questions

Why can’t you empty my green bin every fortnight?

We are adhering to the government guidelines of social distancing and staffing each vehicle with one driver and one loader (instead of one driver and two loaders as normal). This means more vehicles are needed to empty the same number of bins in one day. Therefore, there is not the capacity to return to a regular fortnightly collection at present.

How often will you be collecting my green bin?

You will have a scheduled collection every four weeks. Please check the bin collection calendar for the date of your collection. If we have resources, we will also collect your green bin on your other blue bin days.

When should I put my green bin out?

Make sure you put your green bin out on your scheduled collection day (check our bin collection calendar to find your dates). If you put your green bin out every time you put your blue bin out (fortnightly), it will also have the chance to be emptied on additional days if we have the resources.

Please wait until at least 3.30pm before bringing it back in if it has not been emptied.

If your bin is not emptied you will be able to report that it has been missed on your scheduled monthly day, but not on the dates in between when we may collect it on an ad-hoc basis.

How can you guarantee my green bin will be collected at least once in four weeks?

Please check the bin collection calendar for your scheduled monthly collection. We have enough resources to be sure we can collect green bins at least once every four weeks.

Can you not empty all green bins as soon as possible and then begin a monthly schedule - this way at least all green bins would be emptied sooner?

Unfortunately, we do not have the resource and capacity to do this. We also understand that some residents will have to wait two more weeks to get their bin emptied, and we apologise for this.

Why can’t you just get more vehicles and hire more staff to keep the service running as normal?

We have hired new staff, but this is still not enough to run a normal service whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines. It is not possible to source all of the additional vehicles needed at this time.

We will continue working on this.

How will I know when my green bin will be collected?

Please check the bin collection calendar on our website to find out when your scheduled monthly green bin collection is. Make sure you put your green bin out on this collection day (check our bin collection calendar on-line to find your dates).

If you put your green bin out every time you put your blue bin out (fortnightly), it will also have the chance to be emptied on additional days if we have the resources.

What measures are in place to keep collection staff safe?

Following government guidelines, we have been operating with fewer staff on each round to best comply with social distancing measures – this means having two staff (one driver and one loader, who loads bins onto the lorry) per round instead of three.

Communal areas at the depot have been closed off to avoid unnecessary contact with colleagues who do not work in the same vehicle.

All staff are issued with gloves and have hand sanitiser in the vehicles. Vehicle interiors are wiped down daily and deep-cleaned weekly.

Why can’t you alternate the green bin collections with the black or blue bin to keep collecting the garden waste more frequently?

We have a statutory duty to collect general rubbish (black bins). Also, current guidance to councils from central government is to maintain rubbish and recycling collections where possible.

We also know that the highest volume of material we collect at the moment is from our blue bins (dry recyclables), so this would be more difficult for most people to store.

Will the garden/food waste still go to the same location/treatment plant?

Yes, The IVC (In-Vessel Composting) plant at Waterbeach will be composting the material in the same way.

When will the service return to a fortnightly collection?

We are constantly reviewing our operational capacity and awaiting guidance from government for when the restrictions will be lifted. For this reason, we do not know exactly when the service will return to normal but will keep our website updated regularly. Please continue to check the website.

My green bin still has food in from when the service was suspended. I’m concerned about hygiene, what shall I do?

If you have not already decanted the contents of your green bin into your black bin or are not able to, our advice is to store your green bin in the shade, away from the house (if possible) and with the lid fully closed.

Also consider adding cardboard to the top of the bin or lawn clippings/leaves to provide an extra barrier to retain odours. The fully closed lid will deter flies or pests.

Anyone in extreme difficulty with their green bin should contact us at waste@scambs.gov.uk

Where shall I put my food waste?

You can put food waste in the green bin, but if you are concerned about the smells as a result of the warmer weather and a collection every four weeks, then put it in the black bin.

Setting up a home composter is a good way to recycle your uncooked food waste, along with garden waste, at home. Find out more at www.recyclenow.com/reduce-waste/composting. Compost bins can be ordered online at www.getcomposting.com.

Can I burn my garden waste?

No. In view of air quality and respecting neighbours, particularly those with breathing difficulties, the smoke from burning garden waste may aggravate their conditions.

Also, fires that are not properly controlled can put unnecessary burden on emergency services.

I have an additional green bin that I pay for, will I get a refund?

The subscription fee paid for the current year October 2019 - September 2020 will not be refunded. However, the charge for existing permit holders will be amended when renewals take place in September/October 2020.

We will contact permit holders closer to the time to explain how renewals will work.

Will I get a refund on my Council Tax?

No. We are working hard to maintain statutory collection services under unprecedented conditions, and the cost of providing the services has not reduced.

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.

How can I help bin crews during the Coronavirus outbreak?

Bin collection crews

  • If you can and it is safe to do so, please wash your bin handles and lids with mild disinfectant before you put them out for collection.

Dog bins and litter bins

  • More people will be going for walks locally as they observe the latest Government advice on social distancing. If you are able to take your litter and dog poo bags home and put them in your black bin it will help ease the pressure on our street cleaning crews.