31 January 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

Councils braced for winter waste collection disruption

Councils across the UK are preparing for potential disruption to waste collections caused by the snow and ice forecast over the next few days, with some areas already impacted.

Snowfall disrupted collections yesterday in some local authority areas. Heavy snow is also predicted by the MET Office for this afternoon and evening, with amber and yellow weather warnings in place across parts of the UK.

Below: Cornwall county council has issued a weather warning to its residents over the frosty conditions


In Cambridgeshire, the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service – a partnership between South Cambridgeshire district and Cambridge city councils – has a contingency plan in place to deal with potential disruption caused by adverse weather conditions.

The plan states that in some circumstances when heavy snow is predicted, refuse drivers and operators will be advised to arrive for work no later than 6.30am.

“Staff should attend their vehicles and undergo daily vehicle checks,” the authority said. “If salt is available on site each crew can take a small supply of salt in a kitchen caddy on the vehicle along with a shovel and broom. This is to assist the vehicle and staff carrying out duties only.”

The plan also details various assessments which may be carried out, including establishing condition status from appointed regional assessment officers, and additional safety precautions for refuse workers.

In Cambridgeshire, the waste authority has a contingency plan in place in case of snowfall

Trevor Nicoll, head of shared waste at Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service said: “We do have detailed plans in place for dealing with snow and icy conditions, which we advise our staff ahead of time. We supply extra thermal clothing, gloves and hats, and keep in close communication with our crews, for example using WhatsApp and our in-cab devices, throughout the day in adverse conditions.

“The safety of our staff and residents is paramount, so we make sure that we carry out dynamic risk assessments throughout the day so that no-one is put at risk. We also update residents of any areas where collections will be delayed via our website and social media.”


Cotswold council is among the other authorities to have issued a warning to residents over the potential for delays to collections.

In an update this morning (31 January), the council said waste and recycling collections will continue as usual, although there may be delays due to the “icy start” in some places.

The council said that “significant snowfall” is predicted later today and a yellow medium impact weather warning is in place. As a result, the local authority explained that waste and recycling collections could be disrupted “or at least delayed” on Friday (1 February).

“Our environmental services provider Ubico Ltd will continue to monitor the weather regularly to assess whether it remains safe to carry out kerbside collections of waste and recycling,” the council said. “In the meantime, residents are advised to leave their refuse bins, recycling boxes and bags, kitchen caddies and garden waste bins (if subscribed to the service) at the kerbside as usual.”


Further north, collections have already been impacted by the snow and ice.

In Manchester, the city council was unable to carry out some waste collections yesterday. The authority has asked residents to put their bins out as normal, if possible. “Biffa are collecting waste where it’s safe to do so,” the council added.

It is understood that the council will attempt to collect any missed bins today.

Bury council similarly has seen disruptions to collections, with many of the council’s highways, waste and cleansing teams have been “diverted onto footway gritting in town centres and refilling our network of 350 grit bins across the borough”.

“The good news is that the collection vehicles are back out today and they will be collecting grey bins (residual waste), green bins (paper/cardboard) and blue bins (glass/metal/plastic),” the council said. “We are not currently able to collect brown bins (garden waste) because we are focusing our efforts on clearing the backlog.”


Parts of Wales have also seen missed collections, with advice issued by both Powys and Conwy councils.

Conwy county borough council, in North Wales, was unable to collect recycling yesterday from a number of areas, but asked residents to leave their bins out and “a crew will return as soon as possible”.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your cooperation and understanding,” the council said.

In a social media post yesterday, Powys county council said waste and recycling collections across the county are being disrupted due to the current weather conditions.

“We will try to catch up on any missed collections when conditions improve,” the council said. “Thank you for your patience.”


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