News release from 08/12/2021

Green bin collections suspended from Monday 13 December

Green bin collections suspended from Monday 13 December

Green bin collections across Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are being suspended from Monday (13 December) because of the number of drivers and loaders absent - particularly with Coronavirus or self-isolating.

Crews are working hard to complete rounds that are scheduled for the rest of this week but from Monday (13 December), green bin collections will be suspended and are planned to resume on Wednesday 12 January 2022 in line with the previously published Christmas schedule.

Read the latest bin collection service announcements

In addition to staff shortages due to COVID-related reasons (sickness and self-isolation), there is a continued national shortage of HGV drivers as well as a lack of agency staff because of demand for them elsewhere such as in supermarkets and at online delivery services.

The suspension will allow crews to concentrate on emptying black and blue bins during the festive period when more waste and recycling is traditionally generated. Back in the summer, when the green bin service was threatened, the Councils gave advance warning that collections could be disrupted due to the pandemic causing staff shortages. This has now been realised.

Steps had already been taken to try and deal with staff shortages. Since September, Greater Cambridge Shared Waste has appointed 11 new bin crew members during a near-constant recruitment campaign. Six existing refuse loaders are also currently going through a driver training programme. However, with 30 members of waste operations staff absent today (Wednesday 8 December) it is no longer possible to continue planning to empty green bins from next week.

Many other councils, both in Cambridgeshire and across the UK, have already been forced to suspend their garden waste collection service.

For those residents that are expecting their green bins to be emptied this week, the message is to put your bin out as normal. If it is not collected on your usual collection day, leave it out, and it will be emptied by the afternoon of Tuesday 14 December.

During the green bin suspension, the advice for garden waste is to store this in the green bin or in a pile in the garden, or home compost, until collections resume. If necessary, it can be taken to the household recycling centres at Milton or Thriplow. As always, residents are being encouraged to waste as little food as possible, so they have less to throw away. For this period only, residents who do have food waste are being asked to put it into the black bin. Changes have been made to update the online bin collection calendars to reflect the suspension of green bin collections.

Head of Greater Cambridge Shared Waste, Bode Esan, said: “I really hope that residents will continue supporting our crews and understand that the decision to suspend green bin collections is not one that we have taken lightly. We have done everything we possibly can to keep all our collection services going, by working hard to cover for absences as well as recruiting new staff. However, we have reached the point where we can’t do this any longer and must prioritise emptying black and blue bins. Please help out our hard-working crews by storing any remaining garden waste and leaves from this autumn and minimise food waste as much as possible over the coming weeks and the festive period in particular.”

Food waste trial

If you are a part of our food waste collection trial, this will continue at present and is not affected by the green bin suspension. This is because we have a dedicated crew for this service and so far they have not been affected by sickness.

Frequently asked questions

Collections will resume on Wednesday 12 January 2022 (in line with the revised Christmas bin collection calendar) in the scheduled monthly collection cycle, but this may change as things develop. We encourage everyone to check the council website before each collection to see the latest advice. 

The £40 paid for the current year October 2021 to September 2022 will not be refunded. However, the charge for existing permit holders next year will be reviewed once we know the full scale of the disruptions. With the monthly collections throughout Winter, at present only one collection will be missed.  

  • If it is garden waste only, this can be decanted out of the bin into a home composting area in the garden. Composting advice and bins can be ordered on our home composting webpage
  • Mixed food and garden waste can be decanted into the black bin. 
  • Depending on what is in the bin, residents may choose to leave the contents in it until we are able to collect. 
  • If necessary, you can take you garden waste to the household recycling centre at Milton or Thriplow. Visit Cambridgeshire County Council website for more information 
  • Any garden waste you have should be kept in the garden until you can put it into your green bin for removal as collections resume.
  • Please do not burn your garden waste as this can damage local air quality and can be detrimental to those with breathing difficulties. 
  • Please only put garden waste in your black bin if you have to. Please keep it, for example in your garden, until you can put it into your green bin as collections resume. 

The drop in numbers of staff happened very rapidly so we are not able to sustain the service any longer. 

Collection of general rubbish is a mandatory service. We also know that the majority of people still put their food waste in their black bins, not their green bins, so it is important to try and maintain this collection. Guidance from Central Government states that council should prioritise this service. 

We do not have the staff to run all three bin collections at the moment, so the decision was made to focus on collecting black and blue bins. Garden waste collections are not a statutory service and food waste can be disposed of via the black bin. Guidance issued to local Council from Central Government asks us to prioritise the collection of black and blue bins. 

No, as we are still providing a statutory collection service and your Council Tax does not just pay for bin collections. Most of the tax collected is passed on to the County Council to pay for schools; roads (including gritting); public transport; public health advice; street lighting; social services such as safeguarding children, supporting disabled people and caring for the elderly.