Bin collections and Streetpride services during COVID-19

Published: 25 March 2020

Bin lorry

Bin lorry

Dealing with the city’s waste is one of the services that residents rightly consider a top priority amongst the things that the Council does. I can assure you that your bins are a top priority for us too and we are doing everything possible to maintain the best possible service we can in what are truly unprecedented times.

Government has been very clear in what each and every one of us needs to do to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent our health services becoming overwhelmed.

Derby City Council, like most other local authorities – and indeed most organisations – across the globe, are having to adapt to new ways of working, as part of a national reaction to this crisis. As an employer we also have an absolute duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every member of our hardworking and dedicated teams.

Like you and I, our teams have families, loved ones and colleagues that they want to keep safe, and a number of our workforce have had to self-isolate in line with Government guidance, which has meant we have had significantly fewer staff to collect bins and drive our vehicles.

In addition to these staffing issues, Government has issued strong guidance on social distancing, and we’re left with a situation where we’ve had to reduce the number of people in each vehicle. On a normal day, we send around 32 crews to collect Derby’s rubbish and recycling. Each vehicle has a driver and two or three collectors, and this is simply no longer possible resulting in a reduction to our services.

As a result, I’m sure you’ll be aware that we had to reduce our bin collection services last week. Choosing to prioritise refuse collections was not a decision we have taken lightly. We’re not alone in taking these difficult decisions, as organisations across the globe face similar challenges, but I want to assure you that the Council is treating refuse collection as a critical service, and we have every intention of continuing services as much as we can.

Officers are working extremely hard to ensure we continue to collect general waste. We’re talking to colleagues in the private sector, and are plugging into our Local Resilience Forum which has representation from the army – no options are off the table.

I’ve also been overwhelmed by the support from other services who volunteered to be trained up and help to empty bins – we’re continuing to train people, and I’m eternally grateful for that help.

We are trying our very best for you, but in return I need cooperation to help us. Now, more than ever, we need your help to try and reduce your waste.

We may have to prioritise black bin collection, which could mean having to store your recycling. The best thing to do is to rinse out and squash down recycling – clean, dry recycling can be stored at home without any risk.

In January this year we launched a 31 day reduce, reuse, recycle challenge which is full of easy, practical steps we can all do – this is a great start, and I’d encourage you to take a look. We also have a lot of other advice and information available at to help.

If everyone follows this advice and reduces the amount they throw away, it will help us get bins emptied.

I know that this is an uncertain and worrying time for everyone, and while I understand people’s frustration, I ask you to work with us and please understand that we’re working as hard as we can.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sent messages of support to our teams – we are making sure these are passed on. Please, keep them coming! Together we can keep our communities clean and tidy and avoid adding the treats to our health and wellbeing that the virus currently poses.

Councillor Jonathan Smale

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