Garden waste suspension

As planned, garden waste collections are resuming on your usual day in the fortnight ending Friday 24 September. For all collection days, check My Collection day at somersetwaste.gov.uk. New garden waste subscriptions can be started, and collections of garden waste sacks can be booked.

Before your first resumed collection, do not overfill garden waste bins or leave the lid open; this is unsafe and your bin will not be collected – see details in your Terms and Conditions. You will have to reduce the weight to 40kgs or less and ensure the lid is closed before we can take your bin on your next scheduled collection.

We are sincerely sorry for the recent disruption to all collections. We are working hard with our contractor SUEZ but unfortunately there are no quick fixes. Thank you for your help and patience; it has made a difference in stabilising recycling collections.

 

Why this happened

After a year in which crews managed heavier loads and often far longer hours, the LGV driver shortage and Covid self-isolation of staff significantly disrupted services. Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) reluctantly decided to suspend garden waste collections for six weeks.

Suspending garden waste collections allowed us to redeploy staff to support vital rubbish and recycling services, and help minimise disruption. We have not been alone; many councils have faced similar pressures.

 

What next

You do not need to take any action. Your garden waste subscription end date has automatically been extended by a further eight weeks, in recognition of the difficulties you have faced, especially at a key time of year for gardeners.

 

What to do with garden waste

Do not put garden waste into rubbish or recycling containers. They will not be collected. Do not overfill garden waste bins; your bin will not be collected. Instead:

The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service firmly advises against having bonfires, given the risks of fires spreading, the likely nuisance for neighbours and the potential diversion of the emergency services. Check out their downloadable bonfire leaflet here.

 

Service disruption

Unfortunately, all collection services are being affected by the national LGV drivers shortages made more acute in Somerset by the distribution hubs in and around the county, the higher levels of waste we are all creating, and the impact of COVID Test and Trace isolation on all staff numbers.

We know this is frustrating but would ask for your patience. Our crews are essential workers who have maintained services throughout the pandemic.

From recruitment – check all the jobs here – to training new drivers, and using smaller vehicles to collect some materials and carry out deliveries, work is continuing to address the problems. Visit somersetwaste.gov.uk for latest updates and guidance on managing waste when collections are delayed.

 

Get things done online at My Waste Services

The My Waste Services menu at somersetwaste.gov.uk (tip: postcode gap AB1 2CD) is the quickest and easiest way to manage waste tasks 24/7.

Use it to report missed collections, order containers (including Bright Blue Bags in Mendip and South Somerset), request assisted or clinical collections, make comments, and more.

 

Good practice when putting out recycling

Our crews complete 260,000 recycling collections a week. Help them reduce missed pick-ups. You can:

  • Carefully sort different materials into the right containers so crews can add it to the correct compartment faster.
  • Squash, crush and flatten plastic bottles (then put tops on), tins and cans (if safe) and card so crews get more in the trucks and collect more before having to unload.
  • Stack boxes in windy weather. Put the green box on top of the black, and the food waste bin on top of the green box. This will reduce waste being blown around.

Check all your collection days via My Collection Day at somersetwaste.gov.uk (tip: postcode gap AB1 2CD).

 

We apologise for this temporary measure, which has helped maintain rubbish and recycling collections.

Why are you suspending garden waste collections? 

A lack of staff is making it really difficult for us to complete all of the 400,000-plus collection we make every week. This is down to the national driver shortage, Covid self-isolation, and some local challenges, such as congestion hotspots and having to use a temporary depot. Temporarily stopping garden waste collections means we can redeploy the staff to help with rubbish and recycling collections.

 

Is this it, or will there be a further suspension?

We do not think there will be a need for a longer suspension. But there are no guarantees and it is hard to predict the impact of Covid-19 and other factors over the coming weeks. We will get in touch again if the suspension does need to be extended.

 

Does this mean recycling and rubbish collections can get back to normal?

Unfortunately not. Temporarily stopping garden waste collections means we can redeploy the staff to help with rubbish and recycling collections. It does not mean recycling and rubbish collections will not be missed, but it will help us minimise disruption to these collections. We are sorry for the disruption, but this is a really tough time for waste authorities across the country.

 

Can I get a refund?

No-one will lose out financially. Everyone will automatically receive an eight-week extension to their subscription. You do not have to do anything. You can find advice on this page (above) about how to manage for the next few weeks.

Our terms and condition state that a refund is only payable if the service is suspended for more than 60 days. This suspension is shorter than that, but if there are serious, extenuating circumstances, do get in touch. If you have just started your subscription and are still within the 14-day cooling-off period (which starts on the date of successful payment), you are entitled to a full refund.

 

Why are you doing this right in the middle of the growing season?

This is unfortunate timing but it could not be avoided. The pressure is on us now and to wait any longer would risk even more widespread disruption.

 

My garden waste bin is full. Will it get collected?

Unfortunately, no. If you are able, you could take it to one of our recycling sites. If you cannot, then please store (lid closed) until the service resumes.

 

I have a scheduled sack collection after 2 August. Will it get collected?

Unfortunately, no. There will be no collections for six weeks starting from 2 August. If you are able, you could take it to one of our recycling sites. If you cannot, then please store  it until the service resumes.

 

Can I book a garden waste sack collection?

No. We are not collecting sacks or green bins and you will not be able to book a collection slot during the suspension. We will not be able to pick up any sack collections already booked. We hope to reopen the garden waste sack form from 1 September for collections on or after Monday 13 September.

 

Can I order some garden waste sacks for collection after the suspension ends?

You will not be able to order any during August. We hope to reopen the garden waste sack form from 1 September.

 

Can I get a council tax refund? You’re not providing a full service.

Sorry, but no. Council tax is a way of funding councils for the many services they provide, including waste collection. It is not the same as having a contract for a specific level of service.

Somerset Waste Partnership is responsible collecting and disposing of the waste we all create. It is providing a waste collection service now, although at the moment it is not able to provide one of the standard we all want to see. There are nationwide challenges, such as a driver shortage and Covid self-isolation, contributing to this and, unfortunately, no quick fixes. Please be assured that everyone is working hard to get things back on track.

 

What can I do with my garden waste?

We know these will not work for everyone, but you may consider the following.

  • Reduce: Mow and prune less this summer.
  • Mulch: Use grass cuttings as a layer over soil to retain moisture and reduce weeds.
  • Compost: More on home composting, including a subsidised bin offer, here: somersetwaste.gov.uk/home-composting
  • Recycle sites: All 16 Somerset recycle sites take garden waste. Extra space is being arranged. The quieter times at recycle sites are generally weekdays 1-2pm and 3-6pm.

Please avoid putting garden waste into your rubbish bin. If it goes in the bin it will not be recycled, and we want to recycle as much as possible because that is best for the environment.

 

Can I put garden waste in my black wheeled rubbish bin?

Please avoid it if you can. If it goes in the bin it will not be recycled, and we want to recycle as much as possible because that is best for the environment. If you put it in the rubbish bin, it will go to the Energy-From-Waste plant in Avonmouth.

 

Will you refuse to collect bins with garden waste in them?

No, but we would rather you considered one of the other options as they are better for the environment.

 

Can I take it all to a recycling site?

To find your nearest recycling site and check opening hours and queue cams (which are at nine of the busiest sites), visit somersetwaste.gov.uk/recycling/centres/ Please take material in quantities and containers you are able to move yourself as staff cannot unload heavy or bulky bags. Everything that you could put in your garden waste bin or sack can be added to the garden waste skip at any recycling site.

 

Will the recycling sites be able to cope?

The sites can be busy at peak times. Quieter times tend to be weekdays around 1-2pm, and after 4pm, but it varies. We have queue cams at nine of the busiest sites and suggest you check these before making a trip: Bridgwater, Chard, Highbridge, Minehead, Street, Taunton (Priorswood), Wellington (Poole), Wells (Dulcote) and Yeovil.

 

Will this cause fly tipping?

There are no excuses for fly-tipping, including of garden waste. It is a crime and everyone has a legal duty of care to make sure their waste is disposed of responsibly. If you pay for someone to take it away, there are simple steps you can take to ensure it is not dumped – see: somersetwaste.gov.uk/fly-tipping/