From Monday, a number of changes have been made in line with national guidance, to how we collect waste in order to protect staff, during the Coronavirus emergency. To protect our staff, and prevent the spread of Coronavirus on our waste collection routes we have improved social distancing measures in line with guidance and in discussion with union reps.
From the start of next week, Monday 6 April, we will start to reduce the number of staff in each waste vehicle cab to a driver and one other person, with the third operative travelling in a separate van to carry out collections. Crews will also have access to soap and water, alcohol-based sprays or wipes, gloves and other materials for them to maintain a high standard of hygiene.
This will obviously result in routes taking longer to complete. In addition, due to the current high level of staff absence across our teams, we may need to suspend some services at short notice. Any such changes will be publicised on the Council’s website and social media channels.
Chair of the Communities and Place Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson said:
“We are operating in unprecedented times. Although every effort will be made to minimise the impact these changes will have on the completion times for routes, keeping our staff safe and looking how to best manage our limited resources has to be our priority.
“I ask everyone to be understanding as changes are made. We all have a role to play and people can greatly assist by following the COVID-19 waste and recycling guidance we have publicised to keep our teams safe.”
- Link to Guidance
To help keep the collection service operating as smoothly as possible, householders are being urged to do their bit to help by regularly cleaning bin handles and lids; washing their hands before and after touching bins and presenting bins with lids closed and with no side waste to avoid the crews unnecessarily needing to touch bins and bags.
The guidance requests that people leave their bins out, by 7am on their regular day of collection. If your bins are not emptied by 5pm please take them off the street and present them again on the next scheduled collection day. Regular updates will be provided on the Council’s website and social media.
If any households are self-isolating then they should make sure that all waste items that have been in contact with individuals with symptoms, for example, used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths, are disposed of securely within disposable bags. When full, the plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. These bags should be stored for 72 hours before being put out for collection. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.
If your refuse bin is full please store excess bags safely in a shed or garage until your next collection.
The refuse collection crews are unable to pull out bins from gardens for households that are self- isolating. Please see the guidance on what to do with your rubbish whilst self-isolating.
If your bins are not emptied by 5pm please take them off the street and present them again on the next scheduled collection day. Regular updates will be provided on the Council’s website and social media.
The Highland Council’s waste and recycling crews across the Highlands have been bolstered this week by the many messages of thanks and support from households.
Cllr Henderson added: “I cannot praise our crews highly enough for the terrific job they are doing at such a challenging time for us all. I know that the support members of the public have given really means a lot to them.”
Currently the Council’s Bulky Uplift and Garden Waste service has been suspended until further notice. All Highland Waste Recycling Centres are closed and textile Bank servicing by charities across all sites has stopped. Commercial rubbish and recycling collections for businesses premises are operating as normal across the region.
Carron McDiarmid, Executive Chief Officer for Communities and Place added: “Due to significant staff shortages, the council is prioritising statutory household rubbish and recycling blue bin collection, including food waste collections in Inverness, services.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the bin collection crews for going above and beyond in helping to maintain these essential services that we all reply upon and also thank the public for their understanding and patience during what is an incredibly difficult time for everyone.”
She continued “We understand the concerns that the public have about the welfare of our staff and can assure them that the way we will work from now on has changed to protect their health.”