Drop-off points overflowing with rubbish as bin strikes continue in South Gloucestershire

Credit: Sam Bromiley

Piles of rubbish left around drop-off points in South Gloucestershire have been described as "an environmental and health hazard'.

Waste collection staff in South Gloucestershire are currently on strike after unsuccessful pay negotiations between the Unite union and waste management firm Suez.

Residents are being warned to expect months of disruption, with strike action set to continue until 3 September.

Black bins are still being collected but there is not enough staff to pick up recycling and garden waste. To deal with this, South Gloucester Council has created “deposit points” across the district. 

The council says the sites are being cleared twice a day during the week and once a day during the weekend - but photos show them overflowing with rubbish.

The piles of rubbish have been described as an environmental and public health crisis. Credit: Sam Bromiley

Conservative Councillor for the Parkwall and Warmley ward Sam Bromiley said residents "deserve better".

He added: "South Gloucestershire Council has created an environmental and public health crisis. The delay in getting these bins installed and the small number of sites meant the backlog of recycling has overwhelmed the system.

"We will be calling for the council to step up their response to the strikes as this is unacceptable. We need urgent action to clear the site and ensure bins are emptied regularly.

"This is a basic service residents pay for through council tax and they deserve better."

South Gloucester Council said: “We appreciate that the industrial dispute between Suez and Unite is causing significant disruption and we wholeheartedly thank our residents for their patience and the ongoing effort they are putting into recycling, disposing of their waste and continuing to help the environment in the circumstances.

"In addition to our Sort It centres in Yate, Mangotsfield and Thornbury, we have introduced extra deposit points to dispose of recycling and food waste which are cleared twice a day during the week, and once a day during the weekend.

“We ask residents to sort their recycling into the relevant compartments of the recycling containers provided. If the containers are waiting to be emptied, we ask for the recycling to be left by the side and not on top of the containers, until they are cleared. We are monitoring use at these sites and are constantly reviewing with Suez what additional measures we can put in place with the resources available."

Ken Fish, a regional industrial officer for Unite, has defended the strike.

He said: "These members, some of them earn as little as £11.53 an hour. They work in all weather and all conditions, they advise me they're walking 15 to 20 miles a day.

"Sorting waste, you know, a very physically demanding job and it's not reflected in pay.

"Our members do not want to be on strike. They're ready to go back to work, they want to work, but we need to find a remedy. We're asking Suez to come forward with a reasonable pay offer - a fair pay offer. That's all we're asking for: a fair pay offer."

A spokesperson for Suez said: “With just over 40% of our people in South Gloucestershire continuing to work, we are able to provide a limited collection service that prioritises collecting black bin waste. So that people can continue to recycle during the strike action, we are also opening the larger Sort It Centres and providing additional drop off points across South Gloucestershire.

"Some of these points are staffed, Monday to Friday 8am-2pm. We also have unstaffed drop-off points which can be accessed at any time and when using these, we’re asking people to place their recycling inside the large bins or if full, alongside the bin.

"The drop-off points have been busy, especially over the weekend, as people dispose of the recycling they have collected in recent weeks. Our teams are clearing these twice a day and subject to available staff, we are looking to increase this to prevent recycling building up over weekends.

"We would like to apologise to residents for the disruption and thank them for their patience and commitment to recycling."

Where are the waste drop-off zones during bin strikes in South Gloucestershire?

Recycling and food waste can be taken to five additional locations around South Gloucestershire every weekday between 8am and 2pm. These locations are:

  • Stoke Gifford Park and Ride (Parkway station) - Hunts Ground Road, BS34 8XX

  • Lyde Green Park and Ride - Willowherb Road, BS16 7GG

  • Page Road car park - Staple Hill, Page Road, BS16 4NE

  • SGC North Way site - Filton, BS34 7QG

  • Yate Park and Ride - Badminton Road, Yate, BS37 5YS