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Dorset Council has announced the steps it is taking to ensure household rubbish during the ongoing Coronavirus crisi.

The council says that bin collections are one of its most important services, provided to over 200,000 households across the county.

But it admits that with the current public health measures introduced around the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, there may be ‘challenges’ in maintaining waste service levels as some of its collection crew employees begin to self-isolate and follow social-distancing advice.

‘We have a robust business continuity plan to cope with reduced staffing levels and ensure every household still gets their waste collected,’ the council said in a statement.

‘Services have been prioritised according to relative importance. As staffing levels reduce, employees will be redeployed to cover higher priority work.’

Running from highest to lowest priority, the order is: –

Food Waste
Rubbish collections
Business waste collections
Recycling collections
Garden waste collections
Street cleansing
Bin deliveries

‘In short, employees working on lower priority services will be redeployed to cover absentees who were working in higher priority services. Dorset Council employees working on other non-critical services will also be trained to help with critical waste services if absentee levels become too high across our waste depots,’ said the council in its statement.

‘If, after these measures are introduced, we need to introduce more radical measures we can mix waste types that are currently collected separately (e.g. food with rubbish in a single vehicle, rather than two separate vehicles requiring fewer staff).

‘If Garden and Business waste collections are disrupted, we will work out how subscribers are compensated for collections they did not receive and contact them directly when services eventually return to normal.’

Information will be posted on the Dorset Council coronavirus webpages to provide regular updates on what is happening with bin collections and what residents should do if collections are disrupted. The council says it will also  issue information via its usual communications channels such as local media, e-bulletins and social media.

‘There are no current plans to close household recycling centres, and we are working with our contractors on business continuity, and any on-site changes that may be required to assist with social distancing. We are also working with our contractors who treat and dispose of our waste to ensure business continuity arrangements are in place,’ said the statement.

‘We are closely monitoring any nationally imposed requirements and, as soon as we receive further instructions, we will communicate the details to residents.’

Councillor Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said: ‘While the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is certainly unprecedented, Dorset Council’s waste services are well prepared for the challenges we will face for the foreseeable future regarding bin collections and waste disposal.

‘We have a statutory duty to empty people’s bins, and it is vital that this service is maintained throughout the current crisis. We’re confident Dorset Council’s and our contractors’ business continuity plans are robust and will ensure rubbish will continue to be collected and disposed of.

‘I’d like to thank all our front-line waste collection and cleansing employees, and contractors, who I know will be working even harder than usual to ensure these vital functions continue over the coming weeks. To help them, residents can also try to reduce the amount of waste their household produces at the kerbside and show patience and understanding if their collections are disrupted.’

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