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Why your green bin collections could be disrupted in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire

Residents in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire are being advised that fortnightly green bin collections could be altered or suspended in the weeks ahead due to staff shortages as people self-isolate.

The change would be necessary to allow remaining crews to concentrate on emptying blue and black bins.

Cambridge and South Cambs bin lorry
Cambridge and South Cambs bin lorry

The Greater Cambridgeshire Shared Waste Service is currently unable to secure enough agency workers to cover all absences.

This is because agency workers are in higher demand in roles such as supermarket workers due to the number of people currently needing to self-isolate.

The service regularly uses agency workers to cover absences and annual leave from the role, which sees employees walk on average 13 miles per day.

A small number of the bin collection crew are also currently self-isolating after either being contacted by NHS Test and Trace or alerted via the NHS COVID-19 app.

The service is considering the government announcement yesterday (Thursday, July 22) that fully vaccinated critical workers would be able to leave self-isolation for work in exceptional circumstances, and if it could help support their operations.

The service will let residents, parish councils and residents’ associations know if there are any changes.

People will also be kept up to date via the websites of Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council and their social media channels.

Residents are being encouraged to waste as little food as possible, so they minimise the amount they need to throw away.

The advice to residents who do have food waste, for this period only, will be to put it into the black bin to prevent food waste building-up if green bin collection frequency is reduced.

Residents who enjoy spending time in the garden and growing their own food are also being asked to consider home composting as much of their garden waste as possible.

Cllr Rosy Moore, the city council’s executive councillor for environmental services and city centre, added: “We want to let residents know that – at this stage – green bin collections are continuing as per our normal schedule. However, we also wanted to highlight that there is a chance this could change in the days or weeks ahead.

“Agency staff are hard to come-by as they are in-demand elsewhere – such as in shops which are struggling with staff due to self-isolation issues. We were already recruiting for refuse loaders and HGV drivers so if you are interested in these roles – or know someone who is – please get in touch with us.”

Cllr Brian Milnes, South Cambs council’s lead cabinet member for environmental services and licensing, said: “Residents can help by trying their very best to minimise the amount of food that they are throwing out and trying not to generate garden waste for now. It would also be a big help to our hardworking loaders, who walk the equivalent of a half marathon every shift, if those whose bins don’t have much waste inside can wait until it is full before putting it out – if they think they can manage until their next collection.

“Thanks for bearing with us. Dozens of councils nationally have been forced to suspend green waste collections already but we are doing our very best to keep them going.”

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