Swindon Borough Council will prioritise certain waste collections over the coming months amid the continuing coronavirus crisis.
Black wheelie bin, blue bag, food waste and clinical waste services have been classed as a priority by the Council due to the perishable nature of the waste.
Covid-19 has had a significant impact on many council services and the waste collection team has faced staff shortages due to a combination of the ongoing self-isolation measures and illness. The nature of the work means that staff have to be trained and have a good level of fitness, making staff redeployment from other areas of the Council more difficult.
Measures are being put in place to protect the waste crews by ensuring they follow proper social distancing rules which will have an impact on how much waste can be collected. As a result, crews will be reduced to just a driver and a loader and, if additional manpower is needed, other crew members will be taken via a second vehicle to help complete the round.
In order to keep the priority collections running, the Council may need to suspend other services to divert staff to the priority collections. As of today, garden waste collections will be suspended until Wednesday, 8 April 2020 to allow crews to assist with priority collections.
Subscribers to the paid-for garden waste service are being informed by email or letter with the Council looking at either extending the current subscription year or reducing the cost of next year’s subscription.
Residents can help the Council during these unprecedented times by changing the way they handle waste to help keep vital collection services running. This includes:
- Avoiding DIY or garden work that will produce large amounts of waste that can’t be disposed of
- Reducing food waste, tips for this can be found at lovefoodhatewaste.com
- Reducing waste in general
- Avoiding creating bonfires
Members of the public are also being asked for their help in keeping crews safe. Anyone who has, or is suspected of having COVID-19, should place waste tissues, clothes or wipes in a plastic bag which should be tied up when full. This bag should then be placed in a second bin bag, which should also be tied when full and presented for collection only after 72 hours have passed.
The Council will be continuing fly tipping investigations over the current period to discourage anyone from fly-tipping waste they cannot dispose of. Fly-tipping is illegal, especially during this time when collections may be limited. Any residents who witness fly-tipping are asked to take photos and report it to the Council via the website.
Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “The crews are working as quickly and efficiently as possible to deliver your waste and recycling collections.
“We are constantly reviewing the service in these uncertain times to ensure we are prioritising perishable waste collections, however like many other front-line services we are contending with ongoing self-isolation measures and staff sickness.
“We thank our residents for their patience during this time and encourage our residents to keep up to date with any changes to our services on the Council’s website.”
Changes to services may happen at short notice over the coming weeks so the Council is urging all residents to keep up to date with services through the Council’s dedicated service status update page swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus and through its Facebook page.