Future of garden waste collections in Plymouth

Plymouth City Council has awarded a contract which was estimated at £300,000 to supply new garden waste bins.

The city council decided to replace fabric sacks with bins to make the service more efficient and reduce the risk of injury to staff.

Currently the 90 litre bags have to be manually lifted into the back of vehicles for emptying.

The new bins will be emptied using a mechanical hoist.

Around 40,000 of the new two-wheeled plastic bins are needed for the start of the service in April 2021.

A council report said 38,000 people had registered for the service, around a third of all households in the city.

Distribution of the new bins is expected to take over two months, starting in the new year.

The report said: “The extensive use of bags and the repeated lifting of them presents a risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff.

“Whilst measures in recent years have been introduced to reduce this risk, such as reinforcing the terms of the service on the content and number of bags to be collected, the collection method is not in line with industry standards.

“Collections present excessive physical demand from lift, twist and repetition with a high risk of musculoskeletal injury to loaders.

“The Manual Handling Operations Regulation 1992, Regulation 4 clearly states that Employers hold duties to avoid manual handling and reduce the risk of injury so far as is reasonably practicable.”

The report said there was high turnover and replacement cost for the fabric bags, which was £21,000 in 2018/19.

The city council approved the new system in October.

Anyone applying for the new bins before a cut-off date in January will receive free delivery.

They will come in two sizes – 140 litres and 240 litres.

The garden waste collection service was due to start in April but was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A limited service got under way in August with fortnightly collections.

The city council said in October: “The change in policy is being introduced in line with industry best practice around manual handling health and safety for staff. In 2019, the teams lifted more than 4,400 tonnes of garden waste throughout the year, all of which had to be physically hauled from the ground into refuse vehicles.

“In contrast, the new wheelie bins are easier to move and are mechanically lifted by the vehicle. They will also keep garden waste dry and tidy and will be easier to clean.

“The new wheelie bins will have far less impact on the environment as they have a much longer lifespan than the difficult-to-recycle bags, are less likely to go missing, get torn or blow away unlike the bags which have limited durability.”

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A list of pre-approved suppliers on a national procurement framework were invited to tender for the bins contract.

The responses were assessed against a set of criteria including price.

The two-year deal awarded to MGB Plastics Ltd has an option to extend for another 12 months.

The contract award is accounted for under £1.9m of capital spending approved by the council’s Cabinet in October, and also covers future wheeled bin requirements in existing budgets.

Plymouth Live