RUBBISH collection could be “significantly disrupted” in West Berkshire during the coronavirus pandemic as bin men with symptoms of the disease self-isolate. 

Collecting rubbish from homes is a “very challenging situation”, and West Berkshire Council warned fewer staff over the next few weeks could mean less waste is collected. 

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the council has already suspended household waste recycling centres and bulky waste collections. Street cleaning and container deliveries have been scaled back.

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Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham), lead for environment, said: “I appreciate that waste collections are a much valued service, so please be assured that we are engaging regularly with our contractor to keep collections going as best we can.”

Further reductions in waste collection could come “with or without advance notice”, according to a council spokesman. But updates on what services are available are published regularly on the council’s website

The council is urging people to avoid calling about “routine matters or non-essential waste services”, so staff can “focus limited resources on providing essential services”.

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Bin men have reportedly seen “large volumes of excess refuse” this week outside people’s homes. The council is also urging people to reduce their rubbish during the pandemic, and even to store in sheds and garages if safe to do so. 

If people continue to throw out so much rubbish, it could “overwhelm our already stretched collection systems and lead to significant services disruption”, a council spokesman said. 

Bin lorries may come round earlier than normal, so people should leave bins out the night before or by 6am on the day they are collected. 

Cllr Ardagh-Walter said: “I ask that residents continue to bear with us and, wherever they can, to adopt good waste reduction measures such as home composting or reusing items, for example leftover food and packaging. 

“Our website offers a number of ideas on reducing food waste, recipes and recycling. I would encourage residents to use this valuable resource while the council continues to do what we need to do to support residents.”

The council and its waste contractor Veolia said they would like to “thank the residents” showing support for the waste teams with notes, pictures and posts on social media. 

A council spokesman added: “We would also ask residents to be considerate towards the hard-working waste collection teams, who are doing their best for our communities.”