COVID-19 guidance for waste services

You can visit the COVID-19: Waste Services page to see up to date information on changes to kerbside collections or household recycling centres.

We are working hard to provide the best possible service during the COVID-19 crisis. Waste and recycling crews are designated key workers, and they are doing a fantastic job.

As most of us are now staying at home, more household waste will put pressure on recycling and waste services. 

Staff shortages may mean changes to services like garden waste collections and removal of bulky items like mattresses, white goods or furniture. However Buckinghamshire's local Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) are now open, find your nearest centre here.

The situation is still challenging and can change quickly. It’s up to us all to help. We can do this by:

  • Checking the COVID-19: Waste Services regularly for updates on types and frequencies of recycling and waste collections where we live.
  • Parking responsibly, so that recycling and waste collection vehicles and workers have access;
  • We should only take waste to an HRC if it cannot be stored safely at home. If necessary, we should check to see if our local HRC is open, or whether alternative services are available, before making an unnecessary journey. Social distancing must be observed at HRCs, so fewer visitors are allowed on site at one time and there may be queues;
  • Not leaving items on charity shop doorsteps – find out if and how they are accepting donations before taking items;
  • Continuing to recycle;
  • Re-using or finding another use for things we might otherwise throw away – for instance, using plastic tubs with lids to store leftovers in the freezer, or cutting up old sheets and towels to use as dusters and cleaning cloths;
  • Minimising the amount of rubbish, recycling and food waste we produce. Every bit we can reduce will make a real difference to maintaining a good service for everyone. Find tips for reducing food waste here: We can also use food and garden waste for composting;
  • If we wear a cloth face covering in public, we should wash it after every use in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, is worn out or disposable, we should put it in our usual ‘black bag’ residual waste bin. We must not put used face coverings of any kind or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gloves, into the recycling bin. Nor must we drop them as litter – it’s a criminal offence;
  • If clearing out goods is unavoidable, we should consider making use of retailer take-back services or making our old items available for immediate re-use via on-line platforms such as Freegle or Gumtree. We must make sure we take full account of social distancing and related guidance and that it is safe to move the items in question;
  • Not burning waste at home. This creates air pollution that could harm people nearby who may already have breathing difficulties due to COVID-19. There is also the danger that fires could get out of control; fire services around the country are reporting an increase in callouts due to garden fires;
  • Continuing to wash our hands regularly, maintaining good hygiene when handling our rubbish and recycling and keeping our distance when collection workers are doing their collections where we live.

If self-isolating and feeling ill we should:

  • Put any potentially infected items like used tissues or cleaning cloths into separate plastic bags and double bag them.
  • These bags should then be put aside for at least 72 hours (3 days) before they go into the external bin. More information is available here

When putting out bins we should:

  • Put bins out the evening before a collection is scheduled;
  • Clean bin handles with disinfectant before and after collection;
  • Put used disposable gloves, aprons, masks and other PPE into our non-recyclable waste bin or bag, along with any wipes, cloths, gloves, etc. used for cleaning our bags, bins, boxes and caddies, as these can’t be recycled and could be contaminated.

If disposing of lateral flow test kits:

  • Check the latest guidance here, for disposing of lateral flow test kits at home and the workplace. Lateral flow test kits from these locations are not considered to be healthcare wastes. It can be managed alongside other wastes at your location, for example, black bag waste.
  • If the kits are coming from a Healthcare facility or a Mass Testing site please contact your current waste provider for guidance. See also guidance from the Department of Health and Social care

If using a private company to take your waste we should:

It is likely that private waste companies are experiencing the same issues with staff absence as the Council. If you use a private company or contractor to dispose of your waste, please keep a safe distance apart from other people and ensure they will dispose of your waste responsibly.

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