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Waste update – some of the challenges explained

Waste update – some of the challenges explained
17 September 2020

Much has been very different over the last few months and the Council is proud of how many of its keyworkers have continued to provide a service throughout the pandemic.

Waste operatives have collected, processed and disposed of rubbish throughout the entire period. And, over the months, they have gradually and steadily increased the range of services that they can deliver – even if they don’t all look exactly as they did in “normal” times.

We do recognise that it can be frustrating not being able to do things in the way that you are used to, so we thought it would be helpful to explain both the challenging circumstances under which the teams are operating and the services which are available to Orkney residents in different areas.

For instance:

  • Kerbside collections of rubbish continued from the beginning, with special arrangements put in place for residents who had not previously used this service.
  • Glass, paper, metals/tins and plastic bottles are being collected from the kerbside in the Mainland and linked South Isles. Services to the non-linked Isles are gradually coming back on-line and residents can take their glass, paper and metals/tins to the recycling points which are now being serviced as regularly as possible. We are looking to improve frequency further as soon as possible.
  • A wide range of other materials can be taken to Hatston and Garson Household Waste and Recycling Centres which have gradually been increasing what they accept since opening on 2 June.
  • In addition, we hope to soon resume special collections in the North Isles where this service is delivered by local contractors.

Commercial waste and recycling collection services are also in place and those businesses who needed them have been able to use the Waste Transfer Stations at Bossack and Chinglebraes throughout.

For those services that are not yet operating – or that are working in a different way to what you are used to - it may seem that the solution is simple and to do everything as before. However, we are still required to comply with restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government during the pandemic, in particular those associated with physical distancing and associated hygiene requirements, and these do affect what we can do.

OIC Head of Infrastructure and Strategic Projects, Darren Richardson, explained: “Ordinarily we would have three operatives in the cab of a waste vehicle – driver plus two. However, in an attempt to maximise the distance between them and keep them safe we have reduced this to a driver plus one. This is combined with additional hygiene measures and a number of other risk mitigating activities such as wearing face coverings and keeping the windows open.

“This means that we now need two vehicles where before we only had one, resulting in the need for a second driver. Our driver resource is now therefore having to focus on the kerbside collections meaning fewer drivers to empty skips at the HWRCs. Drivers are also required for bulky uplifts and to service some of the sites on the Isles.

“We are also having to use bin lorries to collect the recycling (although it is still kept separate and recycled). Emptying caddies into bin lorries poses a significant risk to the operative, hence the request for householders not to put out caddies at this time.

“In addition, we are required to ensure that physical distancing requirements are in place on our sites – hence the traffic control measures at Hatston and Garson.”

So, while the waste team are working hard to identify ways of making this happen, a number of services, such as the reopening of the HWRCs at St Margaret’s Hope, Cursiter and Bossack and the resumption of bulky collections where OIC provide that service are still suspended, as Scottish Government physical distancing requirements continue to put our driver resource under pressure.

The situation remains under constant review and we are grateful for the co-operation and support of all Orkney residents. The bin operatives very much appreciate the many gestures of support that they receive while out on their rounds, as do the team staffing the HWRCs.

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