Hard-working waste crew shocked by risky discovery during their round

Published: Thursday, 2nd April 2020

Residents are being urged to follow government guidance on how to dispose of waste during the COVID-19 outbreak after a shocking discovery by one of the city council’s hard-working bin crews.

The crew opened a bin storage area at a city-centre apartment block to find open bags with used face masks spilling from them.

According to government advice, any COVID-19 related waste should be double-bagged and securely fastened before being presented for collection. It is also suggested that surfaces such as bin lids and handles are wiped before and after collection to minimise risk.

However in this case, no such precautions had been taken by those responsible. As such, to ensure their safety, the crew correctly refused to pick up the waste – which is collected weekly from the block in question.

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “I was shocked and saddened when I heard about this and saw the pictures that our crew had taken.

“It is always important to present our waste in the correct way for our crews to collect it – but in this current situation, it is absolutely critical to get it right.

“Our crews have the correct protective gear for their duties. Presenting open bags of rubbish with used face masks puts our hard-working frontline employees at risk as well as other residents in their block.

“It really is quite simple. If we do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus we will be protecting the NHS and saving lives. A small number of people in this isolated case are putting that at risk – and I hope that making the people of Birmingham aware of this ensures we all put out our waste safely.”

The council has made contact with the managing agent responsible for the apartment block to ensure the situation is resolved so waste collections can take place as planned when they are next scheduled.


Background notes: To prevent the risk of reprisals, and in light of the fact that just a small number of people living in the block may be responsible, we have chosen not to disclose the exact location of this incident. Collections at this block are carried out on Fridays.

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