29th March 2020

Disposing of contaminated Coronavirus waste and SWP service disruption

Somerset Waste Partnership is urging anyone with symptoms of Coronavirus to follow Government advice when disposing of personal waste.

The partnership is also asking for the public’s patience and help ahead of likely service disruption as the infection reduces staffing. It has already made decisions to stop some work – including the delivery of replacement recycling boxes and rubbish bins – and expects more to be necessary in the coming weeks.

The latest Government guidance on disposing of personal waste is for anyone with symptoms, including those diagnosed with the infection who must remain at home until they are well. It also applies to people in households with someone showing symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus (a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature).

Personal waste, such as tissues and disposable cleaning cloths, should be stored securely in disposable rubbish bags. These should then be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within your home.

This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual rubbish outside your house, which will be collected as part of the usual fortnightly collections.

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal. Full guidance for people staying at home because of confirmed or possible infection can be found on the Government’s website here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

As the Coronavirus impact on staffing grows, the Partnership and its contractors have already had to make changes to services and are warning that more will follow.

Steps already taken:

  • Cancellation of Garden Waste collection in Sedgemoor today (18.3.20) – impacts on the garden waste service are likely to become more widespread in the coming days and weeks. We’re looking at a suitable way of making sure people paying for garden waste collections don’t lose out and will provide further information when we have it
  • Suspension of new requests for bins, recycling boxes and food waste caddies – teams will endeavour to deliver those already ordered, but no new requests will be accepted for the time being.
  • Suspension of collection of bulky waste from inside properties – a service that tends to be used by older people and involves staff entering people’s homes. The standard bulky waste collection service continues at present.
  • Pausing of the Slim My Waste, Feed My Face campaign, which has been successfully encouraging food waste recycling across the county – this is in anticipation of increased pressure on support staff and services. A decision on delivering the campaign to the remaining areas of Sedgemoor and West Somerset will be taken at a later date.
  • Suspension of assistance in removing waste from vehicles at the County’s 16 Recycling centres – In light of Government guidance around social distancing, staff at the centres will temporarily not be able to help people carry weighty or awkward items. We would ask the public to bear this in mind when using the centres in the coming weeks. Each site has allocated a drop-off area for bulky items which members of the public may use if they feel unable to deposit these in recycling bins.

People are reminded to separate their recycling from their rubbish before bringing it to any site and make sure they follow the guidance on any rubbish potentially affected with Coronavirus.

A spokesperson for Somerset Waste Partnership said: “It’s important that everyone follows the official advice on all aspects of responding to Coronavirus, and that includes what to do with your personal waste if you have symptoms. 

“It’s an extra task but, as with social distancing, this guidance is all about reducing the risk of spreading the virus and by doing so protecting everyone, especially those more vulnerable.

“We’re starting to see unavoidable impacts on some of our services as our collection staffing levels are hit. We have a great working relationship with them and our partners and together we will do everything we can to limit the impacts.

“But we have to be realistic – these are not normal times and we won’t be able to provide the usual service all of the time.

“Like all public services, we’re used to contingency planning and prioritising. Services will be prioritised, ensuring public heath remains at the forefront of our planning. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience and trust the public will be understanding in these unprecedented circumstances.

“People can help us keep as many of our normal services going for as long as possible by making sure their recycling is well-sorted, so crews don’t have to spend time sorting through at the kerbside.

“Don’t put out excess rubbish or recycling and make sure you follow the guidance on rubbish potentially contaminated with Coronavirus.”

For the latest information about SWP services and Coronavirus, visit somersetwaste.gov.uk/coronavirus and follow @somersetwaste on Twitter and Facebook.