Carer slams plans to change waste collections in Sheffield

A Sheffield carer says changes to waste collections could see rubbish such as soiled incontinence pads mounting up in people’s wheelie bins.

Monday, 18th February 2019, 12:19 pm
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 12:22 pm
Carers campaigner Chris Sterry

Families who are caring for a relative currently use special yellow bin bags to dispose of clinical waste such as soiled pads, tubes and used hygiene gloves. The bags are collected weekly by Sheffield Council.

But the council is reviewing the service and may instead ask people to leave the yellow bags in their normal black wheelie bins which would be emptied fortnightly as usual.

Council officers say this is more discreet but one carer has slammed it as cost cutting.

Chris Sterry, vice chairman of Families Lobbying and Advising Sheffield, said: “Sheffield Council appears to want to stop clinical waste collections, or reduce the number of collections, by transferring as many as they can to black bin collections.

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“Currently there are weekly collections and I feel this is the best service. Our yellow bags are in a bin in our backyard and are collected from there. It is worrying as we will not have room in our black bin.

“Much of this waste will be incontinence pads, which could be soiled, and in some instances this soiling may be infectious, so where is the health and safety in this? Black bins are emptied every two weeks so what about aromas with clinical waste?

“This is purely a cost cutting exercise and I doubt if all the implications have been considered.”

Mr Sterry also criticised the short deadline to reply to the consultation. “Why is there a short response time when this correspondence will most likely go to households where there will be people with mental health issues, learning disabilities, autism and dementia who may miss the return deadline?

“I rang the telephone number but got a message to leave my name and contact number and I would receive a call back, I am still waiting for that call.

“This lack of response is a further worrying, especially taking into account the short time to complete the questionnaire.

“If it is not completed by February 27 it will be assumed that a collection is no longer required. This is a disgrace.”

Neil Townrow, waste management officer for Sheffield Council, said the review was to get a better understanding of customers’ needs.

“We have asked customers to respond within three weeks because our experience has been that this timeframe encourages a higher response rate.

“Customers can respond in writing, complete the survey over the phone or return the form via email.

“The clinical waste collection service will continue to be provided as normal whilst we receive information from our customers.

“We understand many customers would prefer to be able to use their black bin for their clinical waste as this is a more discreet service. We will assess each customer’s needs individually and then contact customers to confirm the future service arrangements.”

The council says all bin staff are trained on the safe handling of waste. With a bin collection service there is minimal contact between staff and waste compared to sack collections. It says additional black bin capacity may be provided if needed.