Disposing of your waste during the current coronavirus situation

Sign on a grass verge in front of the Swindon Road recycling centre reads 'Household recycling centre' in white letters on a green background

Household recycling centre, Swindon Road - Coronavirus (COVID-19) update                             

Following updated advice from the government, Cheltenham Borough Council’s household recycling centre (HRC) in Swindon Road will reopen from 9am on Monday 11 May 2020 for essential visits only with social distancing measures in place and access restrictions– long delays are likely.

Who will be able to visit the HRCs and why?

The latest government guidance makes it clear that residents should only take waste to a HRC if it cannot be stored safely at home and no alternative disposal options are available. 

You should not visit the HRC under any circumstances if:

  • you are in self-isolation
  • you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • you live with someone who has symptoms

It is not advisable for a member of the public who is considered to be "vulnerable" to COVID-19 to use HRC services because of the risk of increased exposure to the virus.

When will the HRC be open?

From 9am on Monday 11 May, the recycling centre will be open during their normal operational hours

Site opening hours

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - 7.30am to 7.30pm (summer time*)
  • Saturdays - 7.30am to 4.00pm
  • Sundays - 9.00am to 1.00pm
  • Bank holidays - Usually 9.00am to 1.00pm, but please check our bank holiday waste page as times may vary

Check opening times before setting off

The site may have to close at short notice due to operational issues such as emptying containers, queues of cars forming on Swindon Road or traffic trying to turn right into the site blocking access to the main depot.  Visitors should approach the HRC via the Windyridge Road direction and only turn left onto the site, not via Kingsditch Lane direction. If the HRC at Swindon Road is busy you may book a slot for the GCC HRC at Wingmoor Farm, Stoke Orchard.

What will I need to know before I travel to the HRC?

  • If any households have had COVID-19 symptoms then the waste should be left for 72 hours before being brought to site and the waste should be double-bagged
  • No medical waste should be brought to the HRC for disposal
  • You should bring a document (e.g. a bill) that displays your name and address which must be shown to site staff if requested
  • You should only visit on your normal waste collection day, i.e. if your waste is normally collected on a Monday you can visit the site on a Monday, if your waste is normally collected on a Tuesday you can visit the site on a Tuesday.  If your waste is normally collected on different days, please only visit on your general waste collection day if possible
  • Residents are asked to avoid visiting after 6pm or at weekends to allow key workers to use the site

Unacceptable or abusive behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances and the site staff reserve the right to ask you to leave the HRC without depositing your waste.

Will there be any restrictions?

  • The number of vehicles on-site will be restricted and vehicles will be allowed access on a one in, one out basis with a maximum of 5 vehicles on the site at any one time
  • Only one person should leave a vehicle to deposit waste where possible.  If you need assistance to deposit your waste only 1 other person can get out of the car to help you.  Site staff will not be able to assist you.
  • Traffic management will be in place at all sites and due to safety concerns queuing outside of the site on Swindon Road will not be allowed, residents may be asked to leave and return at a later time
  • Residents are asked not to turn up with trailers and vans – cars only and there is no access for commercial type vehicles or commercial waste disposal

How will social distancing be enforced?hrc covid sign

Social distancing will be strictly enforced on-site, which means:

  • You must stay in your car until you are directed to a parking bay
  • You must follow the instructions from site staff regarding pedestrian walk ways that are in place
  • You must stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other site users and staff
  • Unfortunately, no assistance for unloading can be provided
  • You should wash your hands before you come to the site and handle your waste and you should wash your hands as soon as you get home

Waste disposal – fly tipping

Disposing of waste in the wrong way damages the environment and can be illegal:

Please do not put things in your rubbish bin that you would normally recycle or take to the tip. Our household collection services are continuing as normal, so there is no reason to put things in your rubbish bin that you would normally put in your recycle boxes

You must not dispose of household waste in a way that could harm people’s health. This includes burning it - burning household waste is an offence, liable to prosecution.

Don’t fly-tip or dump waste it’s a crime.

Leaving items on the street or in parks, woodlands and fields is fly-tipping. This is a crime, and local authorities and the Environment Agency have a range of powers to tackle it including fixed penalties of up to £400, or prosecution. Even if you mean well, leaving items outside charity shops, or next to full recycling banks, is still fly-tipping.

You can report fly-tipping to your local authority via www.gov.uk/report-flytipping and find out more information at www.tacklingflytipping.com/

On your return from the HRC please remember not to touch your face and to wash your hands for 20 seconds on arrival at your destination.

Full government guidance on staying at home and away from others

We have been asked why we are still collecting recycling at the kerbside and if it is safe for our crews during the COVID-19 pandemic

Safety - the safety of our crews and the public is vitally important and we must all do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus to help the NHS and save lives.

Recycling vehicle out on collectionsDuring the kerbside sort of recycling boxes there is a likelihood that gloves worn by the crews may be contaminated by COVID-19 by coming into contact with the recycling however as long as good hand to face hygiene is followed and hands are washed/sanitised frequently then the risk is controlled.  We are therefore urging all residents to help crews stay safe and reduce the spread of the virus by sorting their recycling to reduce the need for the crews to touch recycling items.  Not only will better sorting of recycling boxes reduce the spread of the virus and keep our crews safer, it will also help speed up collections. 

Ubico, the council’s environmental services provider, is following all relevant statutory and non-statutory safety advice for waste and recycling collection and social distancing in common with other local authorities in Gloucestershire and nationally.  The guidance recognises that waste and recycling collections need to do what is possible to accommodate social distancing and this is in place for crews who should minimise the amount of time they spend together in the cab and this is happening where possible. The Council will continue to review, with Ubico, whether there are any other measures we could introduce to further improve the safety of the service and mitigate any risks associated with COVID-19.  

What can you do to help?

The great news is that residents in Cheltenham are recycling more but this is putting pressure on the crews and available vehicles, anything we can do to speed up collections so the crews can collect more recycling each day will help. 

The best way to do this is to sort recycling boxes as it makes it quicker to pick up a box and throw the contents onto the vehicle. Cutting up cardboard so it fits into the blue bag, or if necessary put it in a separate recycling box just full of cardboard, helps speed up the collection.  Large pieces of cardboard are harder to fit through the loading hole on the vehicle and sometimes will not fit at all.

Please don't put tissues, nappies or surgical gloves or any other items that are not recycling in your green recycling boxes - we will not be able to collect them if you do.

green plastic recycling box full of glass bottles, paper and cardUnrecyclables in boxgreen plastic recycling box full of glass bottles, paper and card

We have an easy downloadable guide to help you know what to do and how to best sort.

The environment  

Even during these very difficult times of COVID-19, our environment and the planet still needs us to help – the climate change emergency hasn’t gone away.  Less journeys to work due to many people now working from home is helping to reduce emissions globally but making sure we reduce our waste as much as possible and recycle our raw materials needs to continue. #Do1Thing for climate changeDo 1 Thing campaign logo

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 places duties on local authorities to collect waste and recycling.  From 31 December 2010, waste collection authorities in England must make arrangements for the separate collection of at least two types of recyclable waste unless it would be unreasonably costly to do so and the latest guidance from the government encourages local authorities to maintain recycling collections where it is safe to do so.

It is for this reason, which supports the need to look after our environment, that local authorities are continuing to collect recycling where possible combined with the issue non collection would cause for residents who would be faced with finding a way of safely storing large amounts of recycling at home or throwing it into the residual waste bin causing further issues for collection crews and the environment.   

Materials that can be recycled are still needed to support the packaging industry to enable various products to reach our supermarket shelves during these difficult times but we must ensure that all statutory and non-statutory guidance to deliver this service safely is followed and Ubico, the Council’s service provider, is satisfied that their collection methods do just this.

Please make full use of your kerbside waste collection service, as we continue our efforts to keep these working for you.  You can recycle card, paper, glass, plastic pots, tubs and trays and also tins and cans at home, including food waste and garden waste.

Why not have a go at composting in your own garden and use our helpful home composting page to get you started. Alternativley if you would like to subscribe to the brown bin garden waste service please visit here.

Bulky waste

Our bulky waste collection bookings will resume on Tuesday 9 June 2020.

Waste disposal for residents with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19

If you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and are in self-isolation, your personal waste (such as used tissues, disposable cleaning cloths and disposable gloves):

  1. Should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full
  2. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied
  3. It should then be stored for at least 72 hours before it can be put in with your normal household waste

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

Please read the latest Public Health England guidance on cleaning and waste disposal.