Birmingham residents are being urged to follow government guidance on how to dispose of waste during the COVID-19 outbreak after used face masks were found “spilling” from open bags.
According to Birmingham City Council, the refuse collection crew opened a bin storage area at a city-centre apartment block to find open bags with “used face masks spilling from them”.
According to government advice:
- All potentially contaminated items produced, including tissues, cleaning cloths and wipes and masks, need to be put into a plastic bag. Tie the top of the bag to prevent escape of the material
- Put the bag inside another bag and tie the top of the bag.
- Keep the bagged waste for a period of 72 hours in a place that cannot be accessed by other people or pets.
- Put the bag in your wheeled waste bin (if used) for safe collection by crews. The bagged waste must be put out in your normal collection point.
- If you have an assisted collection, bag the waste as described above, and put it out in your usual assisted collection point.
It is also suggested that surfaces such as bin lids and handles are wiped before and after collection to minimise risk.
As a result, the crew was unable to pick up the waste – which is collected weekly from the block in question.
Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “I was shocked and saddened when I heard about this and saw the pictures that our crew had taken.
“It is always important to present our waste in the correct way for our crews to collect it – but in this current situation, it is absolutely critical to get it right.
Presenting open bags of rubbish with used face masks puts our hard-working frontline employees at risk as well as other residents in their block
“Our crews have the correct protective gear for their duties. Presenting open bags of rubbish with used face masks puts our hard-working frontline employees at risk as well as other residents in their block.
“It really is quite simple. If we do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus we will be protecting the NHS and saving lives. A small number of people in this isolated case are putting that at risk – and I hope that making the people of Birmingham aware of this ensures we all put out our waste safely.”
The council says it has made contact with the managing agent responsible for the apartment block to ensure the situation is resolved so waste collections can take place as planned when they are next scheduled.
To prevent the risk of reprisals, and in light of the fact that just a “small number” of people living in the block may be responsible, the council says it has chosen “not to disclose” the exact location of this incident.