Waste services back on schedule despite disruption

All waste services are SWP collect 03back on their usual schedules after recovering from serious disruptions and widespread delays over Christmas and New Year, Somerset Waste Partnership has announced.

Household collections, including clinical, assisted and paid-for garden waste pick-ups, are now on their standard timetables throughout Somerset, while all 16 recycling sites are open as usual.

Hard work and long hours by all crews, and the help of many residents spreading the load of recycling across several collections or taking materials to recycling sites, means all delayed collections should now have been caught up.

Any remaining missed collections should be reported in the usual way, by contacting district council customer services.

On Monday, as always, all recycling sites are operating, with the “Big5″ – Bridgwater, Minehead, Taunton and Yeovil – open 8am-4pm; all the others stay open from 8am to 7pm.

With continuing high levels of recycling, especially cardboard, SWP urges residents to speed up collections and help hard working crews with these steps:

  • Flatten large cardboard under recycling boxes (any more than equivalent of two recycling boxes should be dropped off at a recycling site).
  • Sort and segregate all materials in recycling boxes.
  • Rinse all containers, discard tops into rubbish.
  • If possible, squash all items except glass and aerosols.
  • Ensure all textiles, clothes and shoes are carefully bagged (not in black sacks) to stay completely dry.
  • Containers out by 7am, weighed down if windy.

Recycling sites accept the “dry” recycling materials from home collections as well as many other items; for details of exactly what is taken where and when, plus any entry fees or charges for non-household materials, check the SWP website at www.somersetwaste.gov.uk

As well as home composting, decoration-free natural Christmas trees can be recycled by taking them to any recycling site for composting.

Residents who pay for a garden waste collection, can put out their decoration-free natural Christmas tree (under six feet – remove top if necessary) next to their bin or sack on their usual garden waste collection day from Monday 11 January.

As a last resort, for disposal in costly, polluting landfill, residents can put their tree next to their refuse bin or black sacks on their usual collection day until 15 January.

Waste services experienced delays and disruptions around Christmas and New Year, when bank holidays brought day changes while significant extra recycling slowed down collections.

Storm damage to a recycling depot prevented collections for thousands of homes after Christmas, while a crash blocking the M5 had a similar impact in the New Year.

And despite extra crews and vehicles at Christmas, waste levels leaped 25% this year over 2014 – far more than expected – and almost two thirds above regular weekly tonnages, forcing many extra time consuming trips to unload.

In particular, there was been an “Amazon avalanche” of bulky cardboard from internet shopping, filling trucks faster than any other material, while waste food was three times usual levels after Christmas, again far more than expected.

With more than 5,000 homes due a recycling collection every hour, any disruption from blocked roads, bad weather, unexpected breakdowns and extra unloads had a substantial impact.

A SWP spokesman said: “We are sorry for the recent delays, most of which were beyond our control, and appreciate residents’ patience and support, as well as the hard work of our crews.

“We plan for far more waste at Christmas by adding staff and vehicles to the kerbside service, but this year vastly exceeded our estimates, while the storm damage and M5 chaos delayed many thousands of collections and created a backlog, which our crews have now cleared.

“Anyone still experiencing collection problems should contact their district council customer services to arrange a return pick-up.”