Two councils stop brown bin collections as staff self-isolate

Refuse collectors in Ipswich

Ipswich council is carrying on collecting - but neighbouring councils have halted their brown bin service for now - Credit: Paul Geater

A rise in the number of staff self-isolating because of the Covid pandemic has forced two Suffolk councils to suspend brown bin collections for the foreseeable future.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk have suspended collecting garden waste, so they can concentrate on collecting recyclable waste and general waste while their staff numbers are reduced. 

A spokeswoman for the councils pointed out that the amount of garden waste generated at this time of the year was reasonably low and said it was more important to ensure the other collections could continue.

Residents have to pay an extra charge for brown bin collections - and their contract period will be extended to ensure they are not left out of pocket.

The spokeswoman said: “Making the difficult decision to pause our garden waste collections until further notice allows us to prioritise our most essential collections, during our ongoing response to the pandemic. These include general and medical waste and recycling.

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“Unfortunately, our crews are not immune to the continuing impacts of Covid-19, and we must take this step to ensure that we can continue to deliver essential services safely to our residents and communities.

“No resident will be out of pocket from the stoppage, as garden waste payments will be adjusted to reflect missed collections.

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"Anyone with garden waste is encouraged to compost, with offers available on the Suffolk Recycling website, or to book a slot at their local recycling centre only if absolutely essential.”

No other district or borough councils in Suffolk are taking the same measure at this stage - although East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Ipswich councils all say they are watching the situation.

A spokeswoman for West Suffolk Council said: "The impact of the pandemic will fall differently on councils and their services depending on the situation in their area and their specific circumstances.

"The impact on staffing can change rapidly and we are keeping matters under constant review in order to protect our essential services.

"For the time being, we continue to collect garden waste in West Suffolk."

During the spring lockdown, brown bin collections were suspended across the county - but that was a real problem for gardeners, because April and May see the most vigorous growth for many garden plants.

This time there is little garden growth producing green waste.

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