‘Shocking’ 33,500 missed bin collections in Sheffield

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Residents across Sheffield were left with full rubbish and recycling bins more than 33,500 times over the past five years after Sheffield City Council contractors failed to collect them. 

In the past year alone there were more than 7,300 occasions when bins were not collected.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed

The figures have been revealed in a Freedom on Information request and show a sharp rise in the number of missed collections between 2013 and 2017.

There were 5,620 missed collections in 2013 compared with 8,562 in 2016/17 – an increase of 2,732.

PFI contractor Veolia are responsible for collecting rubbish in Sheffield as part of a deal with Sheffield Council.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, Ecclesall ward and leader of Liberal Democrats, said the ‘worrying’ trend may increase incidents of fly-tipping.

Councillor Douglas Johnson

Councillor Douglas Johnson

He said: “It’s a worrying trend that is increasing year-on-year.

“Especially considering recent changes from recycling weekly to fortnightly. With less collections it should be going down, not up.

“If more bins are being left out, uncollected, it raises the risk of fly-tipping, which we know is already bad in the city.

“If council officers are not enforcing the rules properly people are going to be stuck with rubbish outside their house, which is not good for anyone.

Overfilled black bins waiting for collection

Overfilled black bins waiting for collection

“The council should be demanding better from our services.”

A few years ago the council decided to reduce the number of black bin collections, from weekly fortnightly to encourage recycling.

A recent FOI request by The Star showed the council had to clear up more than 64,400 incidents of illegally dumped litter since 2013, costing the authority more than £3.1 million. 

Coun Douglas Johnson, City ward, said the increasing problem may be due to the terms of the contract between the council and Veolia, which was also updated earlier this year.

He said: “Green Party councillors recently did some work in Highfield to clear abandoned bins from the streets and were shocked to see how many were never collected, despite remaining on the street week in, week out for months or even years.

“Ultimately, Veolia’s contract is run for profit, working to targets.

“From a commercial point of view, it might make sense to leave some bins if the penalty is low. This is what makes it different from running a service for public benefit.”

Neil Townrow, waste management officer at Sheffield  Council, put the increase down to the rise in properties across the city.

Coun Johnston, who is also on the council’s licensing committee, said this was unlikely, due to the 30 per cent increase in 2016/17 when the majority of new accommodation were flats, without individual bins.

Mr Townrow said: “We carry out over 16 million bin collections each year. The vast majority of collections take place as scheduled and less than 0.1 per cent of collections in the last year have been are missed.

“This increase in missed collections coincides with an increase in the in the number of properties across the city in the last four years.

“In a minority of cases, a collection may be missed due to delays caused by a road closure, police incident or a genuine error by a crew.”

Coun Lewis Dagnall, cabinet member for environment and streetscene, added: “On the whole, residents in Sheffield enjoy a bin service which is efficient and beneficial to the environment. Only 0.28% of our household waste goes to landfill because of our effective energy recovery and recycling processes. The new brown bin, replacing the cumbersome blue box, will further improve our household waste collection service.”

Mr Townrow added that residents are asked to put their bins out for collection by 7am on collection day, with the bin lid down.

He said if the bin is not emptied by 4pm and a tag has not been left on the bin to explain, people can report a missed collection.

To report a missed collection, residents should go to www.sheffield.gov.uk or call 0114 2734567 and the council say it will be emptied within two working days.

Sheffield City Council say 100 percent of reported missed bins were collected within 48 working hours.

Veolia did not comment. 

FOI figures in full:

2013/4: 5,620

2014/5: 5,758

2015/6: 6,426

2016/7: 8,352

2017/8: 7,359