Residents in East Cambridgeshire have been asked to rally together and show their continued support for hardworking waste collectors who have been working flat out since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 60-strong team at East Cambs Street Scene (ECSS) have been short staffed as they juggle the effects of COVID combined with a national shortage of HGV drivers.
Now with the extra pressure of Christmas and the New Year, which sees blue bin and black sack waste increase substantially, ECSS has made the tough decision to temporarily halt the collection of green waste services for seven weeks.
It means that green waste, which typically drops off by two thirds over winter, will not be collected from Monday 13 December to Friday 28 January inclusive.
Blue recycling bins used for card and paper, plastics, tins, cans and glass bottles, and black sacks for non-recyclable waste, will continue to be collected as planned.
ECSS will also maintain its street cleaning service, helping keep the district’s roads, pathways and city and town centres clutter free and presentable.
Jo Brooks, Director of Operations at ECSS, said: “Our staff have worked tirelessly through the COVID pandemic, doing everything they can to maintain the delivery of all services to residents of the district. We have been so grateful of all the hard work they have put in which has meant we have never had to drop a single service. On top of this, the national shortage of HGV drivers means we are three drivers short on what we need to deliver daily waste services.
“When we add to this all of the extra blue bin and black sack waste people generate at Christmas and the New Year we have made the very tough decision to temporarily halt the collection of green waste over Christmas and the New Year periods. This will enable them to focus on collecting blue recycling bins, black refuse sacks and street cleaning. It is not a decision we have taken lightly and we hope that our residents continue to show their support to our staff.
“Earlier in the pandemic residents showed unwavering support for key workers including our waste collectors for continuing their relentless task. We hope that residents will continue that support by literally easing our crews’ load for this brief period and supporting them through these challenging times.”
Reducing green waste collections over winter once people have put their gardens to bed and the leaves have fallen from the trees, is a widely recognised way of helping ease the pressure placed on employees during the busy Christmas and New Year periods.
To date, ECSS has been able to maintain a full waste collection service while many other local authorities have had to break over the winter months, or charge residents for standard green waste collections. In Cambridgeshire for example, one local authority reduces its green waste collections over the busy winter period while another only offers a paid-for service. Others in North East Lincolnshire, Central Bedfordshire and parts of Northamptonshire take a break from collecting green waste over the winter period.
Councillor Julia Huffer, Chairman of the Operational Services Committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council, which commissions the service from ECSS, said: “We fully understand and support ECSS’s decision to put the welfare of its staff ahead of green waste collections at this challenging time and would very much encourage members of the public to support them. We all need to take responsibility to generate less waste in the first instance.
“From our last waste analysis, we know that typically 30% of everything we throw away in black sacks is food waste and the majority of this (approximately 60%) could have been avoided if eaten in time, frozen and not wasted.
“There are lots of great ways that we can all reduce food waste and I would encourage residents to do what they can by only buying and cooking what is needed, making use of leftovers by freezing them or reinventing them for other recipes.”
Residents can help out by:
- Reducing food and garden waste
- Home composting
Green waste can also be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre at Witchford.
Tips on how to reduce food waste including meal planning and buying only what you need, can be found on the Love Food Hate Waste website