#HereForDerby – Refuse team

Published: 6 August 2020

Bin lorry

As part of our #HereForDerby series we talk to Dan Brown and Alex Carnie from the Refuse team about how they and their colleagues have been working hard to keep an essential service up and running for city residents.

As the Coronavirus pandemic began to take hold in March, refuse collection services in the city were affected as colleagues self-isolated to protect themselves and their families. However, fast action to put in place social distancing and other safety measures meant colleagues felt safe and secure when they returned to work.

Dan Brown, a Refuse Collector for the Waste Management team, said: “Right from the start of this pandemic the running of all essential services was a daunting thought for those involved.

“The whole of Waste Management and wider Streetpride teams all came together quickly to put measures in place to keep us safe at work. This included limiting how many of us could be in a refuse vehicle cab and making sure that we had enough essential supplies like hand soap and sanitiser.

“The refuse teams have done an amazing job in tackling the problems and with the extra help we have received in the form of support drivers, to make sure that we are keeping the recommended distance whilst out on the rounds, it has been running extremely well.”

Another measure that was swiftly put in place was the creation of welfare units. These mobile toilet and break areas were mobilised when public toilets, council buildings and shops closed as lockdown began.

Whilst there was initial frustration from residents over the impact to bin collections, the public were quick to include our teams in their thanks to key workers. Cards, notes, sweets, treats and more were left in their hundreds for Derby refuse teams.

As part of their key work, our collectors will walk around 17 miles each day, from Tuesday to Friday, in all weathers.

However, it’s not the walking that makes this work so intensive – it’s the sheer weight of waste and recycling that Derby households produce.

Every working day, 11 vehicles are used to collect waste from black bins – and some days a single vehicle may collect a whopping 30 tonnes of rubbish (equivalent of six adult African Elephants). Roughly the same weight is collected from brown bins which is then recycled into compost.

Each of the eight vehicles collecting blue bin (recycling) waste collects up to 15 tonnes each day.

Despite the challenges, social distancing for our crews has had some benefits added Alex, a Refuse vehicle driver.

“Social distancing has affected us all in different ways,” he said. “I do weekly black collections at flats and communal areas and fortunately, the new way of working through Covid-19 has made my round more efficient.

“We have a support vehicle carrying the other collector to ensure social distancing in vehicles. This means they can get in front and set all the work up by having the black bins ready to be tipped into the truck, making the work more efficient.

“But, it does also increase my workload in the sense that I usually have to go assist other crews and help them complete their work.”

Our thanks go to all the refuse teams who have worked exceptionally hard during this tough time, and will continue to do so as we work within the ‘new normal’ – their dedication has kept an essential service running for the city.

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