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Coronavirus: Pressure on district's bin men

Coronavirus: Pressure on district's bin men

Published by May Norman at 6:45am 4th April 2020.

DIY waste means more work for refuse collectors after tips close

  • Homeowners in Harrogate are being asked to think carefully about what they recycle as bin collection workers try to cope with a surge of DIY waste.
  • Those at home due to coronavirus are seizing an opportunity to make home improvements.
  • But it's meant more work for bin men who are already struggling with a drop in staff numbers.

Homeowners in Harrogate are being asked to think carefully about what they recycle as bin collection workers try to cope with a surge of DIY waste.

The prospect of being stuck in the house for weeks on end during lockdown has led to a rise in residents taking on DIY projects – as householders seize the opportunity to make home improvements.

But with all recycling centres in the district now closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus – it has meant more work for key refuse workers who are already struggling with depleted staff numbers.

Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment, waste reduction and recycling, Coun Andrew Paraskos, said:

“With people staying at home during this pandemic, household waste is expected to increase and will put additional pressure on kerbside collections.

“We have limited capacity in our collection vehicles and our crews are working tirelessly to ensure collections still happen as normal but we really need the support of residents during this challenging time.”

North Yorkshire County Council last week announced all of its household waste recycling centres – including Harrogate’s Wetherby Road site – are closed until further notice.

It came as the borough council warned waste collections services may be disrupted as some staff needed to self-isolate with coronavirus symptoms. 

Now, residents are being asked to follow steps to help collections continue as normal – whilst protecting the key workers who carry out more than 4,000,000 collections per year and walk on average 15 miles per day.

Here is what to consider when sorting rubbish and recycling:

  • Anyone with the symptoms of coronavirus should double-bag their waste – especially tissues and cleaning cloths – before placing it in the bin.
  • Wipe down, with a mild bleach solution, the handles on your bins and boxes before and after collection.
  • Try to minimise the amount of waste you put out for collection and don’t include any items that you’d usually need to take to the household waste recycling centres, such as DIY material.
  • Although residents might use this time to have a ‘sort out’ they are advised not to put clothing, books, bric-a-brac, etc. in household waste or recycling and should wait until the household waste recycling centres or charity shops re-open. Additional side waste will also not be taken.
  • Wash and squash down your recycling.
  • Park responsibly and leave enough room for larger vehicles to pass and turn safely. During this time crews will not be able to return to any areas they haven’t managed to collect from because of blocked access.
  • Do not dispose of your rubbish to an unlicensed waste carrier for disposal as this may end up fly-tipped and you could be liable to pay a fixed penalty notice.

Bin collection crews have been split into teams of two to maintain social distancing measures – and additional staff from other council services have volunteered to support the service.

The council said if a collection is missed, workers will not be able to return until the next scheduled collection.

And if the whole street has been missed they will aim to return within three working days. If this does not happen residents will need to wait until their next scheduled collection.

Coun Paraskos said:

“Finally, I want to thank everyone for playing their part in helping us keep this vital services going and to our front-line workers and volunteers who are working hard to ensure everyone’s waste continues to be dealt with safely and responsibly.

“And when you see our crews please give them a wave, or a shout out to let them know that we all appreciate what they are doing.”