Collecting waste in severe weather - FAQs

Suspended collections

Q: How can I find out if my waste collection has been suspended?

A: We will update our website each morning during the disruption.

We will also notify local media, radio stations and use social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Alternatively, you can ring 01242 262626 to hear an automated message which will be regularly updated.

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Q: What are the safety issues facing waste collection crews?

A: Cheltenham Borough Council has a duty of care to any contractor it employs to deliver services on its behalf. In the event of an accident, the council, as well as its contractor could be found liable. Therefore, the council and Ubico work together to ensure employees’ safety and welfare is treated with paramount importance.

One of the biggest worries for our crews is losing control of such a large vehicle. When full, collection vehicles can weigh in excess of 25 tonnes and as such, stopping distances are much greater than that of a car, even in normal working conditions. In icy conditions, if a vehicle were to become out of control then it could cause considerable damage to property, other road users (including parked cars) or seriously - and possibly fatally - injure pedestrians.

At times on the collection route, vehicles are required to reverse out of areas or use turning circles. Again, we need to be confident that all operations on the route can be performed safely.

Another worry is the safety of the collection crews. They will be on the ground for much of the day as they collect residents’ waste. Hazards such as slips (due to icy conditions underfoot) and falls (due to kerbsides being hidden by snow for example) are a real concern, particularly when carrying or moving containers.

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Q: My road is clear - why haven’t you collected my waste?

A: While road conditions may have improved where you live, it may still be unsafe in other areas of Cheltenham. Ubico’s depot is based on Swindon Road - it’s important that crews can manoeuvre the trucks in and out of the depot safely in order to begin collections.

When deciding whether collection vehicles should go out, we need to consider the conditions on the smaller, local roads as well as the condition of the whole collection route and, importantly, whether the vehicles will be able to return to the depot safely.

We also need to dispose of the waste once it has been collected, so we need to check that waste disposal sites are open and accessible. The location of the site will change depending on which collection week it is:

Refuse, garden waste and food collection weeks: waste is tipped at Wingmoor Farm Landfill Site near Bishops Cleeve.

Kerbside recycling and food collection weeks: waste is taken back to the Swindon Road depot.

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Q: How is it that other companies and vehicles can operate during severe weather, but waste collection vehicles cannot?

A: Heavy goods and haulage-style vehicles may be on the road but it is important to remember that they may have come from outside of Cheltenham and may only be traveling on gritted main roads and between two depots.

Our vehicles do travel on the main roads but will predominantly be collecting waste and recycling from smaller side roads which may still yet to be cleared of snow and ice. Waste collection vehicles need to stop, start and manoeuvre frequently and must do so safely taking account of the crews’ safety when conducting their activities.

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Q: Why do you cancel the garden waste service during periods of severe weather?

A: We do understand that residents pay for the collection of their garden waste and expect a high level of service in return. We only exercise our right to cancel the garden waste service where absolutely necessary and during periods of severe weather, we and a number of residents who have offered feedback in the past, believe that priority should be given to the collection of refuse waste.

In the event of snow, it is likely that the need to offer a garden waste collection at this time will be small and therefore these vehicles and crews will be better used in aiding the catch up.

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Catch up collections

Q: Will you arrange catch up collections for missed refuse waste collections?

A: Yes.

You should leave your wheelie bin out for seven days to allow crews to catch up with refuse collections. If, after seven days, your waste has still not been collected, it means that there have been exceptional circumstances and crews have been unable to get to your property. This will be rare, but if it happens, please check our homepage or call 01242 262626 for the latest advice.

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Q: Will you arrange catch up collections for missed food waste collections?

A: No.

Both our refuse trucks and recycling trucks have the facilities to collect food waste so we are able to offer this as a weekly service. Therefore catching up on food waste collections is not a priority as they are scheduled to be collected every seven days. As refuse is collected fortnightly, we make sure that this is given priority during catch up services.

Although the facilities for food waste are available on the refuse trucks, when we operate our catch up service, we call in garden waste vehicles to help. These, unfortunately, do not accommodate food waste. Also, time is of the essence during a catch up service, so we ask crews to prioritise collecting refuse waste over food waste.

While we appreciate that residents wish to dispose of their food waste as soon as possible, given the freezing conditions, the contents of your food waste caddy will breakdown much more slowly and should not pose a problem smell wise.

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Q: Will you arrange catch up collections for missed recycling collections?

A: It depends...

To help with catch-up collections for refuse waste, we are able to call upon the garden waste trucks to help, but we can’t do this for recycling collections. To collect recycling, specialist equipment is needed on the recycling trucks to help sort and separate the waste at the kerbside.

Once normal services have resumed, the properties scheduled for collection that day will be visited first. If recycling crews have time at the end of each day - and as long as road conditions allow - they will visit households which have missed a recycling collection earlier in the week.

So if crews haven’t been able to collect your recycling on your scheduled day, you should leave your recycling box out for seven days following your missed collection. If, after seven days, your recycling still hasn’t been collected, please take your box back in and put it out on your next scheduled recycling collection. If you accrue more recycling which wont fit in your recycling box, you can put it out with your other recycling in an alternative sturdy plastic box.

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Q: Will you arrange catch up collections for missed garden waste collections?

A: No.

If the weather is so bad that services have to be suspended, priority is given to catching up on refuse collections. Garden waste vehicles are drafted in to help crews catch up with refuse collections and are indispensable in helping get services back on track. Find out what to do with extra garden waste.

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Q: Why don’t you have spare vehicles to help with extra collections?

A: The council’s contractor, Ubico Ltd., has adequate vehicles to cover day-to-day operations in the event of a breakdown or similar. However, it is not financially viable to have a full fleet of spare vehicles stationed at the depot to cover events such as extra collections in the event of bad weather, because of the relative small number of occasions throughout the year when they might be required.

Q: Why do you prioritise catch up collections for refuse but not other types of materials?

A: This is because of the nature of refuse waste and the problems it causes when having to store it for longer than the normal fortnight. Also, it’s possible for us to use garden waste vehicles to catch up on missed refuse collections, but we can’t use garden waste vehicles for recycling collection or for taking away food waste to be composted. Food waste is collected weekly so a catch up service for this is not a priority.

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Scheduled collections

Q: When are my next ‘scheduled’ recycling and refuse collections?

A: Recycling - If the disruption occurs on ‘week one – recycling’, your next scheduled collection for recycling will be two weeks from your normal collection day. But you should leave your recycling out for seven days in case recycling crews are able do additional catch up collections at the end of their normal daily recycling rounds. If your recycling hasn’t been collected within seven days, take it back in on the seventh day and replace it with your wheelie bin as you will now be scheduled for ‘week two – refuse’. Your next scheduled recycling collection will take place the following week. Find out what to do with your extra recycling.

Refuse - If the disruption occurs on ‘week two – refuse’, your next scheduled collection for refuse will be two weeks from your normal collection day. But you should leave your wheelie bin out for seven days to allow for catch up collections. If, in exceptional circumstances, your refuse hasn’t been collected within seven days, take it back in on the seventh day and replace it with your recycling box as you will now be scheduled to return to ‘week one – recycling’. Your next scheduled refuse collection will take place the following week. Find out what to do with your extra refuse.

Food - If your food waste has not been collected, your next scheduled collection will be one week from your normal collection day. There will not be catch up collections for food waste.

Garden - If your garden waste has not been collected, your next scheduled collection will be two weeks from your normal collection day. There will not be catch up collections for garden waste.

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Extra waste

Q: What do I do with the extra food waste I’ve accumulated?

A: If your food waste caddy becomes full, please use your smaller caddy and present it alongside the bigger one and both will be emptied on the next scheduled collection day. Please do not leave excess food waste out for collection in any type of bag alongside your caddy as we will not be able to pick this up.

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Q: What do I do with the extra recycling I’ve accumulated?

A: If you accumulate lots more recycling, you can use an additional sturdy box - not made of cardboard as it will get sodden in damp weather – and put it alongside your normal recycling box for collection. Please do not use plastic bags or bin liners as it is likely that they might be mistaken for refuse.

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Q: Will you collect extra refuse and recycling once services return to normal?

A: Yes.

Refuse – please put your extra waste in black sacks and put it out next to your wheelie bin on your next scheduled refuse collection.

Recycling – please put your extra recycling in a suitably sturdy box and put it our alongside your recycling box on your next scheduled recycling collection. Please do not use cardboard or any type of bag for storing recycling waste.

Food – please use your smaller kitchen caddy to store extra food waste and put it out alongside your larger food waste caddy on your next scheduled food waste collection. Please do not use bags or any container other than the allocated plastic food caddies.

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Disposing of waste

Q: Where can I take my waste and recycling if I don’t want to wait for my next scheduled collection?

A: Refuse – If your refuse has not been collected within seven days, you can either wait for your next scheduled refuse collection or, if it is safe and convenient for you to do so, you can take it to Swindon Road recycling centre.

Recycling – If your recycling has not been collected within seven days, you can either wait for your next scheduled recycling collection or, if it is safe and convenient for you to do so, you can take it to Swindon Road recycling centre or other recycling banks around Cheltenham.

Food – If your food waste has not been collected on its scheduled day, take it in and put it back out at the kerbside again seven days later, on your next scheduled collection.

Garden – If your garden waste has not been collected, you can either wait for your next scheduled garden waste collection (in two weeks' time) or, if it is safe and convenient for you to do so, you can take it to Swindon Road recycling centre.

Swindon Road recycling centre is normally open between 7.30am-7.30pm (summer) and 7.30am-6.30pm (winter) Monday to Friday, 7.30am-4.00pm on Saturdays and 9.00am-1.00pm on Sundays. But please check that the site is open first by visiting www.cheltenham.gov.uk or calling 01242 262626.

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