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Council leader Bridget Smith: Why bin collections are changing across Greater Cambridge

Cllr Bridget Smith, the Liberal Democrat leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, writes for the Cambridge Independent about the upcoming bin changes across Greater Cambridge.

Bin collections are set to change for 80 per cent of residents - around 104,000 households - Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire from the week beginning Monday, September 18.

A Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service bin lorry
A Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service bin lorry

There won’t be fewer collections. Instead, the rounds have been amended as part of route optimisation work that all councils do as standard approximately every few years. This ensures that with new homes being built, the bin rounds are still working efficiently, and that collections continue to be spread as evenly as possible.

Greater Cambridge Shared Waste, a partnership between Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils are moving to collect bins over four weekdays, instead of five. This means household bins will no longer be collected on a Monday. One benefit of this is that it avoids the disruption to collections that has previously happened after bank holiday Mondays throughout the year as crews catch-up.

For some residents it may mean a new bin day, or an adjustment to the order in which their black or blue and green bins are emptied.

The frequency of bin collections will remain fortnightly with bins emptied on alternative weeks. Initially, some residents may find they have two consecutive weeks of the same colour bins being emptied as the new schedule is introduced. After that, all residents will continue to have their black bin emptied one week and their blue and green bins the other.

As is the case now, bins should always be put out ready to be emptied by 6am on the day of collection.

Cllr Bridget Smith, the leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Bridget Smith, the leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell

The changes form part of our four-day week trial. Like many councils we struggle to recruit and retain staff and for some years have only been able to fill 80 per cent of our vacancies across all departments - including waste crew. Our biggest challenge is competing with the private sector for bin lorry drivers. We can’t compete with the private sector on wages alone, so, we are trying something new, which we hope will help address our recruitment challenges and support better health and wellbeing for our hardworking crews, whilst delivering important services like bin collections.

All residents affected will receive a letter in the post to confirm their new collection arrangements. Bin collections will not change for any resident who does not receive a letter – around 20 per cent of households will not be affected.

Cambridge City residents can check their bin collection dates online and South Cambridgeshire residents can check online here. There will also be reminders on the councils’ social media channels and websites.

Meanwhile, Greater Cambridge Shared Waste welcomed its third electric bin lorry in June this year – and more electric vehicles are due to replace older diesel lorries as part of the councils’ efforts to decarbonise the fleet.

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