A Frozen Wheelie Bin is Snow Joke

Cambridge City Council have warned residents that green recycling bins and their contents could turn into virtual freezers in cold weather. As the temperatures start to drop, the council have warned that refuse collectors may not be able to empty bins that are full of frozen waste.

The council’s advice

The council have advised residents that if a bin freezes the contents can stay stuck inside instead of dropping into the refuse vehicle. Lids can also freeze shut.

They say that wrapping food waste in paper and lining the bottom of wheelie bins with cardboard will go some way to beating the freeze, and leaving the bins in the sun on a sunny day can also help to thaw it out. Advice has also been given to keep bins in a garage, shed, or wheelie bin store for a day or so prior to collection.

The council has warned that if the contents of bins are frozen, they won’t be collected until the following scheduled collection day. They added that refuse collectors will do their best to empty the bin, but if it’s not possible, the bin lid will be left open to indicate that they did try to empty it.

The council have warned residents not to lean into bins to try and loosen the frozen waste, as this can cause injury.

In winters gone by

  • In Warrington, Cheshire, residents were warned that cold weather could make it difficult for staff to collect their bins. The council asked people not to pour hot water in the bin to thaw it out, as this actually freezes quicker than warm water. They also asked residents not to hit the bin to dislodge ice as it could cause damage.
  • In Hitchin, North Hertfordshire District Council apologised to residents for failing to collect some waste as bin lids had frozen shut.
  • Meanwhile, Tamworth Borough Council insisted the freezing temperatures meant uncollected rubbish was not a health hazard, as organisms were unlikely to be able to breed in the cold.

Will fortnightly collections add to the problem?

Some residents fear that the fact that most councils have now moved to fortnightly collections could potentially make problems worse in periods of bad weather. Most people way their bins are full to the brim after 2 weeks, and if their collection is delayed due to bad weather, this problem will only get worse, and frozen rubbish will end up lying around on the pavement.