Waste service updates

Why your bin may not be collected

What should I do if my bin hasn't been collected due to severe weather?

If your bin wasn't collected due to severe weather conditions, such as snow and ice:

  • Leave your bin out at the boundary of your property if it's safe to do so and we'll return to collect it as soon as we can.
  • Don't report a missed bin collection unless your bin is the only bin not collected on your street. Report a missed bin.
  • Be aware that in some circumstances we may empty one of your bins as scheduled before the missed bin is emptied.
  • If you can, assist neighbours who may be less able to move their bin in bad weather.

To help us collect your waste

  • Park your car in a way that doesn't cause further access problems for our bin lorries. For example, try to park on your drive, if you have one, and park with consideration on narrow roads or near a corner.
  • Clear snow and ice from the top of your bin, box or food waste container
  • Ensure there is a clear path in the snow to allow crews to wheel your bin to the road / collection vehicle.
  • Do not place additional bags on or around your bin. Side waste will not be collected. Please keep this waste until your next scheduled collection.
  • Household with an assisted collection service must ensure our staff have safe access to waste containers eg: paths are cleared and gritted in adverse weather or present bins for collection immediately inside the boundary of their property.
  • Consider taking your rubbish and recycling to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre

Why do you stop collecting bins in bad weather?

We never make these decisions lightly and the decision is usually based on a number of reasons including:

  • The safety of our collection staff. We have a duty of care for everyone we employ.
  • The risk of vehicles operating in unsafe conditions. Our bin lorries are large and extremely heavy vehicles. On icy or untreated roads, they could pose a risk to other vehicles or property as well as pedestrians.
  • The considerable time, effort and cost to recover a collection vehicle if it does get stuck, or is involved in an accident.

An increase in parked cars on streets during bad weather can also stop bin lorries getting into or out of streets safely.

How do you decide if it's safe to collect bins?

We regularly review road conditions and take advice from both the Met Office and the Council's Waste Risk and Resilience Manager. We resume collections as soon as we can.

Other vehicles are driving around. Why can't you?

We take the health and safety of the public and our own staff very seriously. Small side roads, or un-adopted roads which are not routinely cleared of snow, can become very icy. It would be dangerous for our refuse lorries to drive down these streets.

If a small car weighing 1 tonne and driving at 10mph slips on ice, it would hit an object with a certain force. Our large refuse lorries can weigh up to 26 tonnes. If a refuse vehicle slips and hits a wall, a car or in a worst case scenario a pedestrian, at the same speed, it would do so at 26 times the force. This is not a risk Midlothian Council, or the professional drivers we employ, wish to take.

Footpaths can also remain treacherous even when main roads have been cleared. Our staff need to move large, often heavy, bins, and may be unable to stop themselves falling if they slip. This could potentially cause serious injury.

While road conditions may be clear where your live, it may still be unsafe in other locations. We must consider conditions on the whole collection route when making a decision on whether to collect bins.

Why don't you just grit the roads?

It's not possible for our Roads Services team to treat every road at the same time. We have a priority system for treating roads as part of our Winter Service Policy. Icy pavements can still make it unsafe for collections to take place.

Can't you use smaller vehicles if large trucks can't be used?

We have one fleet of vehicles for refuse and recycling collections. These are heavy goods vehicles with the special equipment to lift and empty bins. Smaller vehicles won't have this equipment or the space to collect all the waste from houses on a collection route.

Why can't you put snow chains on waste collection vehicles?

Snow chains are only effective on roads where the ice and snow is thick enough. Driving a vehicle fitted with snow chains on roads without a significant cover of ice and snow - for example, roads that have been cleared or treated - could affect the braking and handling of the vehicle. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, we would be guilty of endangering life and limb by using snow chains on treated roads, and taking the chains on and off whenever the vehicles move from snow covered roads to cleared roads is not a practical solution.

Can't you give loaders boots with crampons on?

Although our loaders have been issued with special studs that fit over their boots, icy pavements still pose a risk to our staff. Roads still need to be free of snow and ice for our vehicles to access them.

I saw a truck drive past my house. Why didn't it collect my bins?

It may also be that this vehicle was not scheduled to collect waste from your house. We have a number of vehicles working in the same area at any given time.

The truck may have been full, and on its way to be emptied. If there is a backlog of waste to be collected due to adverse weather, it takes longer for our vehicles to get around, and they also fill up more quickly. Please be patient while our crews catch up.

Can't you take on extra staff to help catch up on missed collections?

We are not necessarily limited by a lack of staff but by the number of collection vehicles we have. Any additional staff would need to be fully trained and have local knowledge of the rounds. Our staff understand that disruption affects residents, and work hard to get services back to normal.

What should I do if my rubbish is frozen inside my bin?

If the contents of your bin are frozen and stuck inside your bin they may not fall out when your bin is tipped into our vehicles. Try to prevent your bin from freezing, or loosen the contents of your bin before it's collected.

Why was my brown bin only half emptied?

When the weather is particularly cold, any moisture in your bin may freeze. This can result in some waste getting stuck to the bottom of the bin. It's not always easy for our crew to see that waste is stuck in the bin and we are unable to spend time unfreezing the waste. If the material is unstuck we will collect it on your next scheduled collection day.

What do staff do if they're not collecting bins?

When it's too dangerous for waste collection vehicles to go out on the roads, staff are redeployed to clear areas of snow and ice. During periods of bad weather, staff work hard to get services back to normal.

When will my bin be collected?

It is not possible to say. When collection services resume, we concentrate first on those who have a scheduled collection on that day. This avoids creating a "knock on" effect. Once scheduled collection routes are completed, we can return to collect missed bins. If possible, we will work over the weekend to catch up. In some circumstances, this may mean one bin is emptied as scheduled before the missed bin is emptied. Please avoid contacting us about this. We have a list of the areas where collections were missed and we will return as soon as we can. 

Can I claim a refund on my Council Tax if my bin is not collected?

Although collections may not have been made on a scheduled day, the backlog still has to be collected when weather conditions improve. You Council Tax not only covers waste collection but a range of Council services. What your Council Tax is spent on.

How long will the disruption last?

It depends on how severe the weather is, and how long it lasts. Updates will be posted on our waste and recycling pageFacebook and Twitter pages.

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