I’ve had a very varied career, I was a successful sales executive, living in south Wales for the best part of 30 years. I’ve also run a pub in Liverpool, where I come from originally, and have been a delivery driver for a bread manufacturer. Having also lived for a period in Holland and Germany, I moved to Ceredigion four years ago. I heard about some vacancies in the council’s waste collection service, and thought why not?

Career change a breath of fresh air

I applied and succeeded in securing a job as a loader, as part of the waste collection crew based at Penrhos depot, near Llandysul. As a loader, I’m one of the guys in the team who gets in and out of the waste lorry, collecting people’s waste.

Since starting the role, I’ve completed an N.V.Q in LGV.

The best bit of the job is being outside, to work in the beautiful countryside that we’re lucky to have in Ceredigion. Did you realise that the collection teams collect about 65 tonnes of waste every day? That’s the equivalent of 54 cars. It certainly keeps us as fit as a fiddle - no gym fees required!

A typical day

The day begins in the muster room, where all the collection crew members meet to hear what routes we’ll be working on for the day and to collect the keys for the particular lorry we’ll using that day. Then, it’s time to head outside to carry out the vehicle checks with the driver. The loaders stock up with recycling bags and food waste liner bags ready for the run, and then with all being well with the lorry, we’re off.

When we arrive at the first call, the other loaders and myself climb out and that’s when the real work starts. Walking alongside the lorry as we go, any bags with yellow stickers are given a roll of clear bags and any bags containing non-acceptable materials inside are issued with a red sticker, highlighting the offending material. Replacement Food liner bags are given for the food bins if needed.

Team work

To some, the way we collect the rubbish may seem a bit chaotic but everything is highly choreographed when it comes to how we work as a team. Each member of the crew knows exactly what to do and where to position themselves in relation to the lorry to be seen by the driver and safety cameras. Each team is part of a bigger team, who constantly communicate with each other should any team have problems. All the teams rally round to help each other. Our supervisor co-ordinates things remotely, ensuring all the routes are completed.

Residents’ support

The public are pretty good and quite supportive of us usually. There will always be exceptions but that’s the case whatever you do. We are lucky at the Penrhos Depot, where I’m based, to have really excellent people working in the waste collections department – both on the ground and in the office. Minor things go wrong like bags breaking but that’s just part of the job.

We are fortunate that many people tell us face to face, while we’re out on our rounds, how they appreciate the hard work that our waste crews do. It brings a smile to our faces when residents come out to greet us and children wave when we collect the waste on their street. This support helps to keep morale up, knowing that people value that we’re doing our best to help keep the county clean.

People often stop and talk to us when they come to collect more recycling bags and food waste liners from us

It really is much nicer and a lot more hygienic for the crew when we can empty the food bins where liners have been used; it’s not pleasant at all when we’re faced with emptying unlined food bins, overflowing with rotten food!

Many of us are well aware that we need to recycle more and a lot of people already use the clear recycling bags and food waste bins that are provided by the Council. However, there’s still opportunities to recycle more. We unfortunately, still see some households that don’t recycle at all - did you know that it actually costs the Council much more to deal with waste put into black bags compared to dealing with recycled waste?

If everyone used the Council’s waste collection service properly, our jobs would be much easier, and it would save the Council money, money which could be used across other services.

Delivery of the new fleet

We’re currently working with an ageing fleet; the crew really had to go above and beyond the call of duty to keep the service going, not to mention the mechanics who do a marvellous job to keeping us on the road.

Sometimes, despite every attempt to minimise disruption, issues arise that can affect the waste collections. Remember, if your bins haven’t been collected, check our waste collection service disruption page on the website for further information and advice on what you should do with the waste; whether to leave it out or to take back in and represent on your next scheduled day of collection.

There’s great excitement within the teams at the moment as the new waste collection vehicles will start to be delivered in the next few months. These will make significant improvements to the efficiency of the service and lessen some pressure on the crew.

New Waste Collection about to go live!

In the spring, our new waste collection service will start to be rolled out across the county. Clear recycling bags and food waste will continue to be collected on a weekly basis. Black bags will be collected every three weeks. A new collection of glass bottles and jars will be collected every three weeks, and a separate collection for nappies and similar waste will be collected fortnightly (on request).

For more information on the new service go to https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/bins-recycling/new-waste-collection-service-starting-soon/

I’m proud that I’m part of this exciting new service and being part of such a great team, here at Ceredigion.