Coronavirus: Householders urged to disinfect wheelie bin handles

All waste should be double bagged, tied with knot and set aside for 72 hours, Panda says

Panda asked all users of wheelie bins to clean handles and bins with disinfectant before and after presentation. Photograph: Alan Betson

Panda asked all users of wheelie bins to clean handles and bins with disinfectant before and after presentation. Photograph: Alan Betson

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Householders with wheelie bins have been asked to clean bin handles with disinfectant before and after putting them out for collection during the coronavirus pandemic.

The move has been encouraged by both Panda, one of the State’s largest waste and recycling operators, and the Irish Waste Management Association.

Spokesman for the association Conor Walsh said it was vital that householders at least wore household gloves when putting out bins, but preferably washed down the handles of the bins too “so that we keep going as long as possible” and avoid the situation in the UK where some collection services had to be curtailed.

On a conference call last week, health-and-safety officers of member companies of the association reported no bin collector had yet tested positive for the coronavirus.

Measures had been put in place among collection crews to keep core teams isolated from each other to reduce risk, Mr Walsh said.

In situations where there were three people on a bin lorry, efforts were being made to install perspex barriers to keep even the members of core teams apart. In addition, in sorting stations shifts had been designed with a break, so one set of workers were not in the building at the same time as the next shift, and operatives were placed at least the social-distancing space of two metres from each other.

But he said there was always a danger of events following those in the UK where some waste operators had curtailed “green bin” recycling and “brown bin” composting to concentrate on the more critical “black bin” general waste collections.

Set aside

Panda meanwhile has advised its customers with Covid-19 symptoms that all waste should be double bagged, tied in a knot and set aside safely for 72 hours. It should then be placed in the relevant wheelie bin and left out the night before collection.

It also asked all users of wheelie bins to clean handles and bins with disinfectant before and after presentation, regardless of whether the household was in quarantine or self-isolating due to symptoms, or just staying home.

Member companies of the Irish Waste Management Association employ more than 5,000 people and collect 75 per cent of the State’s household waste. Members include well-known names such as Panda, Thorntons Recycling and Greenstar as well as Mr Binman, Oxigen and AES-Bord Na Móna. On the processing side the association also represents Dublin Waste to Energy, which operates the Poolbeg incinerator.

The association is part of the Government’s high-level advisory team on managing coronavirus and has prepared advice for communities seeking more information on safely handling waste. It is available on mywaste.ie.

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