How are bin collections being handled during virus epidemic?

BIN collections are one of Dorset Council’s most important services, provided to over 200,000 households across the county.

But with the current public health measures introduced around the coronavirus situation, there may be challenges in maintaining waste service levels as some of our collection crew employees begin to self-isolate and follow social-distancing advice.

Dorset Council has a robust business continuity plan to cope with reduced staffing levels and ensure every household still gets their waste collected.

Services have been prioritised according to relative importance. As staffing levels reduce, employees will be redeployed to cover higher priority work.

Broadly speaking, running from highest to lowest priority, the order is:

  • Food Waste
  • Rubbish collections
  • Business waste collections
  • Recycling collections
  • Garden waste collections
  • Street cleansing
  • Bin deliveries

In short, employees working on lower priority services will be redeployed to cover absentees who were working in higher priority services.

Dorset Council employees working on other non-critical services will also be trained to help with critical waste services if absentee levels become too high across our waste depots.

If, after these measures are introduced, the council needs to introduce more radical measures it can mix waste types that are currently collected separately (e.g. food with rubbish in a single vehicle, rather than two separate vehicles requiring fewer staff).

If garden and business waste collections are disrupted, the council will work out how subscribers are compensated for collections they did not receive and contact them directly when services eventually return to normal.

Information will be posted on the Dorset Council coronavirus webpages to provide regular updates on what is happening with bin collections and what residents should do if collections are disrupted.

The council will also issue information via its usual communications channels such as local media, e-bulletins and social media.

There are no current plans to close household recycling centres, and the council working with its contractors on business continuity, and any on-site changes that may be required to assist with social distancing.

It is also working with contractors who treat and dispose of waste to ensure business continuity arrangements are in place.

Dorset Council is closely monitoring any nationally-imposed requirements and, as soon as it receives further instructions, it will communicate the details to residents.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said: “While the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is certainly unprecedented, Dorset Council’s waste services are well prepared for the challenges we will face for the foreseeable future regarding bin collections and waste disposal.

“We have a statutory duty to empty people’s bins, and it is vital that this service is maintained throughout the current crisis. We’re confident Dorset Council’s and our contractors’ business continuity plans are robust and will ensure rubbish will continue to be collected and disposed of.

“I’d like to thank all our front-line waste collection and cleansing employees, and contractors, who I know will be working even harder than usual to ensure these vital functions continue over the coming weeks.

“To help them, residents can also try to reduce the amount of waste their household produces at the kerbside and show patience and understanding if their collections are disrupted.”

Follow LymeOnline’s live updates on coronavirus for the latest news and advice, including how the outbreak is affecting the local area.

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About Francesca Evans 2065 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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