Reopening Recycling Centres & Garden Waste collections
Frequently asked Questions
Somerset’s recycling centres will reopening in two stages, starting on Monday, 11 May, as will Garden Waste collections both of which have been suspended as a result of Coronavirus.
Why are the Somerset recycling sites closed?
All 16 recycling sites in Somerset have been closed since Monday 23rd March, as were the vast majority in the UK following the Government announcement of social distancing measures and a ban on non-essential journeys to help avoid the spread of Covid19.
Somerset’s sites are operated on behalf of the Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) by Viridor. Whilst closed, most of the site staff have been redeployed to maintain front line kerbside waste collections of rubbish, recycling, food and clinical waste collections.
Why is it okay to open them now?
Updated guidance from Government (only published on 5 May 2020) makes it clear that sites can be reopened – for essential visits only – within the current restrictions. By that the government means that it’s reasonable to visit only if waste or recycling cannot be stored safely at home without risking harm or ill health to your household, or harm to public health and amenity.
In what circumstances should I visit a recycling centre?
Initially, you should only visit a site if it is an essential journey – if your waste and recycling can’t be stored safely at home without risking harm or ill health to you or your household.
You should not visit a site if you are either showing symptoms of Covid19 or have been asked to shield by Government
If you believe you have Covid19 related waste (tissues, wipes, etc) you should store it double bagged for at least 72 hours and put in your black rubbish bin, or as a last resort in double-bagged rubbish brought to the recycling centre (after waiting 72 hours).
Are opening hours changing?
They will be working on a temporary opening pattern for at least two weeks:
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 9am to 6pm.
- Thursday: Closed.
- Saturday and Sunday: 9am to 4pm.
Overall, this equates to an extra 54 hours per week across the initial 11 sites, then 117 hours when all 16 are reopened.
Which sites are opening when?
The following sites will reopen on Monday 11th May at 9am. These are where it is easier to ensure social distancing and where site cleansing can be easily accommodated.
- Bridgwater (Saltlands)
- Taunton (Priorswood)
- Wellington (Poole)
- Wells (Dulcote)
The remaining 5 sites require a little more work to enable them to be operated safely and we expect them to open on Tuesday 26th May;
- Castle Cary (Dimmer)
Will visits to the sites take longer than usual?
We’re expecting long queues and traffic diversions in place to access the recycling sites once reopened. Please only come if you really need to and don’t cause additional congestion by making multiple trips. Measures have been put in place to reduce the time people take on site and to reduce disruption from site operations (e.g. compacting bins).
Will there be any restrictions on access?
Yes, we’ve amended layouts and put in temporary measures to maintain social distancing:
- An ‘odd and even number plate’ access system – access only on certain days depending on your number. This will be advertised in advance on the SWP website (somersetwaste.gov.uk) and with signs on-site.
– Odd numbers: Monday, Wednesday & Saturday (e.g. 03, 53, 19 or 69)
– Even numbers: Tuesday, Friday & Sunday (e.g. 02, 52, 18 or 68)
- Security personnel at the entrance limiting entry on a one in one out basis – similar to that you might have seen at the supermarket.
- Fewer parking bays to ensure we provide at least 2 metres between each visitor.
- No large vans (3.5 tonne & above) or trailers – in order to minimise queuing and waiting times.
- Only two people from the same household will be allowed to access per vehicle – in order to minimise potential exposure to the virus whilst still allowing the deposit of bulky items. Site staff will be unable to offer manual assistance with lifting heavy items.
- Please ensure that you wear gloves at all times whilst outside of your vehicle.
- No access to the normal recycling banks – to maintain social distancing, you will only be able to use the skips directly adjacent to your parking bay
- We will only be accepting four types of waste until further notice
What waste can I take to the recycling sites?
- Rubbish – material that you would usually put in your black rubbish bin, excess black bags not taken by kerbside collections, and bulky items like furniture.
- Green waste – garden waste such as grass cuttings, leaves, hedge trimmings.
- Household hazardous chemicals such as pesticides, weed killers & insecticides
- Large household electrical items – white goods, cookers, TVs etc.
What waste can’t I take to the recycling sites?
- Anything that is usually charged for – tyres, gas bottles, soil & hardcore, vehicle parts and commercial waste.
Payment would make social distancing more difficult.
- Plasterboard & Asbestos – although payment is usually in advance online, we are unable to temporarily allow access to the appropriate skips on site.
- Due to being unable to accept any payments on site for the time being, we will not be selling the Revive compost until further notice
Waste we’d ask you NOT to bring unless you really need to
We cannot provide the full range of recycling service initially. These items will go to landfill so, if possible, please store at home until the sites are working as normal again and they can be recycled.
- Anything that could go in your weekly recycling – such as cardboard, food and drink cans, paper, food waste, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars. Kerbside collections of these materials continue. https://www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/recycling-collections/
- Other recyclables – including plastic pots, tubs and trays, wooden furniture, scrap metal, Tetra Pak cartons, small electrical items.
How you will address any issues with traffic around the sites?
We have worked closely with the County Council Highways team and the Police to mitigate congestion, please follow any instruction shown on signs or given in person by these agencies. Access routes to some sites will change, and ‘no queueing beyond this point’ restrictions will be in place.
Why haven’t you introduced a booking system?
We’ve looked at the potential operation of using a pre booking system but have currently decided, as have many other authorities, that the potential complications probably outweigh the benefits. The number plate system and ‘one out, one in’ is simple and practical but we will keep the use of a booking system under review should it be required.
On site safety
- Abusive behaviour, to staff or other site users will not be tolerated and will be reported to the Police.
- CCTV, number plate recognition & body cameras will be in operation on each site and will be used as evidence if needed.
- If a site visitor does not follow the temporary social distancing requirements, they will be asked to leave the site.
- Should a serious incident occur, involving either threatening or abusive behaviour or failure to adhere to social distancing rules, the site may be closed until resolved causing additional congestion and delay to other residents wishing to use the site
Garden Waste collections
When are the collections restarting?
The service restarts from Monday, 11 May. As explained in your letter, collections days have changed and may not be the same as your rubbish/recycling day. Please check your sticker letter or check online using the www.somersetwaste.org.uk ‘My Collection Day’ checker.
What’s happening with my subscription?
We pledged that subscribers would not lose out financially as a result of the disruption so subscriptions will not expire until Mid-May, 2021.
Will you pick up the extra garden waste I can’t get in my bin?
Sorry, but no. We are taking on temporary extra staff and vehicles, but they will not be able to collect garden waste not in bins or pre-paid sacks. If you have lots, please dispose of it through the collections gradually.
I’m not a subscriber, but I’ve got garden waste because the recycling centres have been closed, Will you be picking that up?
Sorry, but no. We are taking on temporary extra staff and vehicles, but they will not be able to collect garden waste from people not currently subscribed to the service.
My bin is really heavy. Is that going to be a problem?
The bins will still need to be lifted into the collection van, so yes. If it is not possible for a crew member to lift, unfortunately the bin may well need to be left behind. Please dispose of it through the collections gradually, taking out excess material and storing until the next collection if needed.