RESUME: Garden waste collections restart
Bristol bin men, Image: LDRS
Garden waste collections in Bristol should resume next week for the first time in more than two months, Marvin Rees has confirmed.
The fortnightly service was suspended for 10 weeks on July 7 because of a “national driver shortage and the continued impacts of Covid-19”.
At the time, 28 Bristol Waste binmen – 10 per cent of the frontline workforce – were self-isolating after either testing positive for coronavirus or being in close contact with someone who had.
The city council-owned company said calling a halt to collecting garden bins and sacks was necessary to “maintain our essential waste and recycling services” but the decision sparked anger from residents and councillors.
Answering a question by Conservative Cllr John Goulandris at Bristol City Council member forum on Tuesday, September 7, the mayor said it was “more likely than less likely” that the service should start up again from next Wednesday.
Mr Rees said: “We share your disappointment and acknowledge the difficulties this has caused residents.
“We have asked Bristol Waste to do everything they can to ensure services will resume on September 15.
“In addition to Covid, we are also facing a national shortage of drivers, partly caused by the impact of Brexit.
“it’s more likely rather than less likely [to resume next Wednesday] but it’s not impossible something will come up and knock that deadline.
“We have experienced over the last year-and-a-half that we can be taken by surprise.
“Over the last few months we have taken a particular hit that has taken a number of people by surprise.”
In a written question, Stoke Bishop ward Cllr Goulandris said: “The mayor will be aware that as well as the cancellation of green bin collections, Bristol Waste has had many missed and late collections of black bins and recycling.
“Staff sickness rates have been high. Bristol Waste has placed most of the blame for this on the so-called ‘pingdemic’, when even vaccinated staff had to self-isolate.
“That has now, of course, ended and staff absences and sickness rates should as a result have sharply reduced. Is this in fact the case?”
The mayor replied: “You are right – the Covid isolation restrictions being eased has improved the situation.
“As we suspended garden waste, we would have expected the collection of black bins and recycling to improve in August and we are waiting for the data to confirm this.”
Mr Rees told the City Hall meeting that an “energised, rigorous conversation” was taking place within the council and with Bristol Waste and all businesses involved in waste in the city about how to reduce rubbish.
“Part of cleaning up a city isn’t just going and cleaning up fly-tips and picking litter, it’s making sure they’re not there in the first instance,” he said.
“Those are personal behaviours but it’s also about the systems that underpin the city – reduce the generation of waste, increase recycling, increase reuse and then ultimately waste to energy, which is something [cabinet member with responsibility for climate, ecology, waste and energy] Cllr Nicola Beech is all over.
“There is a very comprehensive conversation which is not just about straining gnats and swallowing camels, it’s trying to grab hold of the way the city functions at a very basic level.”
Words: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter
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