Bins overflow as councils scale back collections after up to a third of refuse workers are off sick due to coronavirus – while those still on job are ‘terrified’ they will catch bug because they don’t even have basic protective gear

  • Some authorities are not collecting bins for food waste and types of recycling
  • Up to a third of the workforce in some areas are sick amid hygiene complaints
  • Bin men are also under pressure due to panic-buying and more cardboard waste 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Bins were today seen overflowing as councils scaled back collections as up to a third of refuse workers went off sick due to coronavirus.

Many local authorities have stopped collecting bins containing food and garden waste, instead telling residents to put everything in black bags.

It came as bin men spoke of their fears they would catch the virus because they lack even basic protective gear amid a global shortage, and revealed they were being put under extra pressure by an increase in waste caused by panic buying. 

A row of bins in London that were seen overflowing today amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has put more pressure on refuse collectors 

Panic-buying and an increase in waste from home deliveries has also led to more waste being thrown out 

Rotherham City Council has suspended brown bin collections for food waste for the next six weeks after revealing a third of its workforce were at home.

Local authorities in Milton Keynes and Stockport are no longer collecting green bins for cut flowers and garden waste, with residents urged to use their own compost heaps.

All glass collections have been suspended in Stirling, while in Dorset street and dog waste bins will be emptied less often to prioritise household collections.

Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove Council left residents furious after authorities told them to dispose of their own rubbish because bin collections had been missed ‘because of coronavirus’. 

Bin men have been put under extra pressure by piles of food thrown out by panic buyers in addition to an increase in waste cardboard due to the rise in home deliveries.

One bin man, from the East Midlands, told The Daily Star: ‘The biggest problem we’ve had is social distancing – trying to keep two metres apart.

‘When you’re a bin man you tend to sit in the wagon with three guys, so ­obviously you can’t have a two- metre gap.’ He also complained that a request for face masks had been rejected.

Bin men have raised concerns about not being issued with even basic protective equipment. Pictured is a row of overflowing bins in London 

One bin man, from the East Midlands, said: ‘The biggest problem we’ve had is social distancing – trying to keep two metres apart’ 

Another waste collector described the difficulty of facing mountains of extra rubbish.

‘Our problem is the public at home, online shopping and panic buying,’ he said. ‘With staff shortages and extra waste we are very stretched.’ 

Stuart Richards, from the GMB Union, told MailOnline: ‘The picture is changing every day, but we are seeing a significant number of our members not being able to come into work (either through shielding, self-isolation or actual sickness).

‘However, up to the end of last week, it seemed that the majority of councils and contractors have been able to continue without massive disruption.

‘Continuing staff absences and revised working practices to try and ensure safety (smaller crews, etc) are having an impact, though, and this is likely to have a cumulative effect over time.

‘From our perspective, GMB members are doing an amazing job and continuing to deliver vital front line services.’

Mr Richards said he was not aware of any domestic waste rounds being reduced yet. 


Stuart Richards, from the GMB Union, told MailOnline: ‘The picture is changing every day, but we are seeing a significant number of our members not being able to come into work (either through shielding, self-isolation or actual sickness).’ Pictured is a scene from the Docklands, east London

Mr Richards said he was not aware of any domestic waste rounds being reduced yet (picture taken in the Docklands, east London) 

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