Changes to the collection services in response to COVID-19

Over the last few months, the waste team have had to introduce changes to the service in order to protect our staff and the residents and businesses of Orkney. To ensure the safety of our crews and protect the public we are following national physical distancing requirements and have reduced the number of people allowed in the cab of bin lorries. This, in addition to any staff shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has meant that we have had to focus our efforts on the most critical services, collecting waste which could become a public health hazard if left uncollected.

We are continually reviewing service provision as the situation evolves and are recovering services as appropriate, whilst still offering the same protection to our staff and the public and complying with updated national guidance. As service changes are implemented we will keep everyone updated through media outlets, Facebook, Twitter and on these pages so please keep checking for recent updates, as well as the FAQs below.


Recycling kerbside collections on Mainland Orkney, Burray and South Ronaldsay are operating on a four-weekly cycle, with one type of recycling material being collected each week. Reminders are issued each week about what material is being collected that week.

We have begun the process of collecting and changing over the recycling containers on the Isles. This is impacted by ferry availability but we are hopeful that we can complete this process during the next few weeks.

Household Waste Recycling Centres

We have been able to partially re-open Household Waste Recycling Centre. The sites at Hatston and Garson can accept the following materials:

We would really encourage households to only visit the recycling centres if it is essential to do so. We would also like to encourage residents to consider a staggered approach to visiting in order to help us manage potential congestion. Our suggestion is to visit the centre when it is your normal bin day making it easy to remember. This will help manage congestion but also will help the sites remain open in line with advertised opening hours. If too many residents use the sites in any one day, there is the risk the sites will need to close earlier in order to exchange skips and prepare for the following day. We appeal to residents using the sites to be mindful of physical distancing guidance and to let you know that no assistance on site will be available at this time.

We ask that when residents use the recycling centres please be patient and respectful of our staff and of the measures put in place to protect you and our staff. They are doing the best they can in difficult and new circumstances. Please do not approach them on site as we need to ensure the 2m rule continues to be applied. If anyone is dissatisfied with the service at the HWRC’s they should contact Customer Services and not take this up with operatives on site. Our FAQs below should help answer any other questions you may have about how the sites will operate.

Future Changes

Rest assured that work carries on behind the scenes constantly reviewing other services, staffing levels and how we might be able to slowly re-introduce other services when we can in line with national guidance. Should infection numbers rise during this progress out of lockdown, we may face further lockdown measures and the resulting risk that services may be taken off line again. We sincerely hope that will not be the case so please work with us when using our services, think of others and stay safe.

Thank you for your patience and assistance at this difficult time – it is very much appreciated.

If you see our crews in the street, please keep a safe distance from them of at least two metres. You should also wash your hands before and after putting your bin out for collection. This is to protect them and you. Please visit the Scottish Government’s website for advice on physical distancing.

Presentation of your bin(s)

In these more challenging hygiene times please also make sure your bin handles are cleaned with warm soapy water, or alcohol-based wipes or Anti-Bac spray – our operatives are wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) but they are pulling out thousands of bins every week and don’t have the opportunity to do a 20 second handwash between each bin removal. Please keep your bins clean. Every bit helps.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS