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This week’s missed household residual waste and recycling collections will be collected over the weekend by the new contractor, confirms Richmond Council.

Earlier this year Richmond Council announced that a new waste and recycling collection contract has been awarded to Serco, commencing on the 30 March 2020.

Despite the challenges facing the provider due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Serco started delivering the service on Monday. They have been working hard over the past month to ensure that they were ready for the new contract, putting in place steps to minimise any impact of the pandemic. However, whilst so far there has been no significant staffing impact as a result of the virus, like the start of any new contract there have been initial ‘teething’ problems, due mainly to problems with the hire fleet of waste trucks.

This resulted in a number of roads across the borough where waste or recycling boxes collections were not undertaken due to vehicle breakdowns. The provider has committed to completing the collection of the waste/recycling for these roads by the end of the weekend.

Measures are being put in place to address the issues with the hire fleet to provide the resilience necessary to deliver the service required. The brand-new fleet of EURO6 refuse collection vehicles, are currently in build and are expected to be in place by the Autumn. They will be fitted with a range of safety features including 360-degree cameras, an ‘auto stopping system’ which automatically apply the vehicle brakes when movement is sensed during reversing and a cycling safety system, all designed to ensure safe working practices are maintainable at all times for the benefit of Richmond residents.

Richmond Council and Serco are committed to providing a waste and recycling service throughout the pandemic. However, with most residents now staying at home, there is a danger that there will be more household waste and recycling to pick up, putting additional pressure on the borough’s collection services with increased trips to the disposal points required.

Therefore, Richmond Council is asking residents to:

  • Leave waste and recycling ready for collection from 8pm the night before and no later than 6am on your collection day.
  • Leave waste and recycling within the front boundary of your property i.e. where your front path or drive meets the road or pavement. If you have sufficient outside space, please store and present your black bag within a dustbin.
  • Please separate food waste and close the food caddy securely
  • Avoid big clear-outs which create more rubbish and recycling for crews to collect. Please hold onto larger items like furniture or mattresses until the outbreak has subsided and do not dispose of any type of waste on a bonfire as the smoke causes air pollution and can have negative health effects for people living nearby.
  • If you’re self-isolating and feeling ill, putting any potentially infected items like used tissues or cleaning cloths into separate plastic bags and double-bagging them. These bags should then be put aside for at least 72 hours before they are put in external bins. If using a street litter bin, please make sure tissues are securely bagged up.
  • Try to minimise the amount of rubbish, recycling and food waste you produce.
  • Don’t take any waste or recycling to Townmead Road recycling centre in Kew. This centre is closed.
  • Continue to wash your hands regularly, maintaining good hygiene when handling your rubbish and recycling and keeping your distance when the workers are doing their collections.
  • Check carefully about what can and can’t be recycled in your collections.
  • Regularly check the council’s website or social media channels like Twitter and Facebook for updates on waste and recycling collections.

Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, Cllr Martin Elengorn, said:

“Our aim is to do everything we can to keep Richmond upon Thames’ streets clean, keep collecting your waste and make sure your recycling bins continue to be emptied, while protecting the health of all our workers as well as the general public.

“Since we announced the award of the contract, Serco have been working hard with Council officers to make sure that they were ready. However, they have had to start their new contract in difficult circumstances. There are pressures on staff sickness due to Coronavirus, households may be generating more waste than in usual circumstances, a number of our services have had to stop and unfortunately some of the fleet of hire vehicles the contractor is using broke down in service and required repairs.

“During this week the latter has caused significant problems. Serco have reassured us that they have put in place steps to make sure that any repairs can be carried out swiftly at our depot. However, there may still be a few days affected whilst this takes place.

“Therefore, any missed collections on the impacted roads will be covered this weekend. I would like to thank Serco for all their efforts so far, particularly those men and women who are out on the street every day, despite the risks of Coronavirus.”

Franco Murphy, Serco’s London Regional Operations Manager added

“Firstly, I would like to apologise to those residents whose collections have been missed this week and would like to reassure them that we will be out collecting over the weekend. In addition to improve resilience within the service we will be implementing an enhanced repair and maintenance schedule for the vehicles from Monday 6 April.”

Residents are also reminded the Garden Waste service is currently suspended and are encouraged to compost any waste until the service recommences.

– from a Richmond Council press release - 3 April 2020