Fears rubbish could pile up in streets after councils slash collections during lockdown

RUBBISH could pile up on the streets after councils slashed waste collection services during the coronavirus lockdown.

Authorities are facing a “wave of waste” after slashing some services due to staff shortages, while more rubbish piles up at homes across the nation with millions staying in.

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Dozens of councils have already cut recycling services, while a third of all authorities have scrapped garden waste collections.

The District Councils’ Network – which represents 191 local authorities – is urging people to think about how they dispose of waste during the lock down to ease pressure.

Meanwhile the Recycling Association has asked the government to ensure the majority of councils continue to collect recyclables amid a potential shortage of reusable cardboard.

Some councils have also closed recycling centres as part of social distancing measures to discourage non-essential travel.

Which councils are cutting bin collections?

  • Chiltern District Council in Buckinghamshire are among those to have cut recycling services – and it's understood others will soon follow suit because of staffing pressures.
  • Garden waste collections have been suspended in areas including Bournemouth and Poole and Leeds, while councils such as Plymouth, which were planning to restart pickups of garden cuttings for the spring, now say they are not going to do so.
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme is also warning residents of changes to their recycling collections as a result of staff self-isolating.
  • Bury Council has told residents it will not be picking up brown bins for garden and food waste this week or next, while Bolton said priority will be given to the collection of rubbish, food waste containers and green bins, with recycling bins “emptied where possible”.
  • Manchester City Council announced garden and food recycling bins and caddies will not be collected until further notice, to ensure normal collection of rubbish bins, with residents urged to compost food waste at home or throw it in the bin.
  • Green waste collections have already been suspended in Sheffield and last week there were "significant disruptions to services" at Luton Borough Council where 134 members of staff were self-isolating, and Liverpool City Council suspended all green bin collections.

But the DCN is also urging residents against burning rubbish on bonfires, especially hazardous waste, following a spate of incidents across the country following the lockdown.

Cllr Dan Humphreys, DCN Lead Member for Enhancing Quality of Life, said: “While most of the nation is quite rightly in isolation, and able to work from home, our refuse collectors continue to go out to empty people’s bins and dispose of their waste.

“Alongside many other frontline services, the efforts of our waste collection staff should be applauded, as they are playing a key role in helping to keep the country running during this difficult period.

“Make no mistake, councils and their contractors have plans in place to try and ensure that everyone’s bins are collected.

“But we would ask the public to play their part, too. Where possible we would ask residents to think twice about how much waste is put out – such a small step could make a huge difference.

“With millions safely staying at home, many producing more waste than normal, and a risk that our waste collection workforce suffers staff shortages, we have to be careful and prepared to manage a potential wave of waste.

“Councils are doing all they can, and we want to thank the public for helping us during this tricky period.”

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No.10 said it would be urging councils to continue waste services as much as possible.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “There are obviously public health reasons collections of certain types of waste would need to continue.”

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