PEOPLE are going to be waiting longer for their recycling to be picked up as the 'pingdemic' and a driver shortage continue to decimate collections in Somerset.

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP), which oversees collections in the county, has warned households that longer delays are likely.

Crews have been trying to return within the usual two working days for missed weekly recycling collections, they said, but added how staffing pressures heightened by the number of people being told to self-isolate due to Covid-19 mean that is not possible, unless the collection was missed the week before.

From Monday (July 26), any missed recycling collections will not be returned for until your next collection day - a week later - unless you were missed the previous week, an SWP spokesperson said, when crews will do their best to be back within two days.

"Steps have been taken that should prevent anyone being missed twice in a row," they added.

"SWP is still confident that any missed rubbish and garden waste collections will be returned for within two working days."

Residents are still being urged to report any missed collections online using the My Waste Services menu at if possible.

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Meanwhile, the partnership has also temporarily stopped taking new subscriptions for its garden waste services, or orders for garden waste sacks.

"The service has more than 55,000 subscribers and the pause on new additions will avoid putting further pressure on overstretched services," the spokesperson said.

"This will be reviewed regularly and new subscribers allowed again when we can."

Despite considerable recruitment and retention work, the situation is unlikely to improve in the short term and further disruption is likely throughout August, they said.

Mickey Green, SWP managing director, said: “This isn’t where we want to be, but these are national pressures affecting waste authorities around the country.

“In this unprecedented situation it’s important that we manage people expectations and be clear on what we can and cannot do.

"Unfortunately, that means a two-week gap between recycling collections for some, though we are doing what we can to minimise this.

“Please bear with us, after an incredibly difficult last year or so your crews need your patience and support more than ever.”

SWP carries out more than 400,000 kerbside collections every week, and the SWP says most are still happening without a hitch.

The national driver shortage is a long-term issue made worse by Covid, which has delayed driver training and testing, and the departure of many EU drivers, the spokesperson explained.

"Crews work in ‘bubbles’ and increasing numbers are needing to self-isolate as the rate of Covid infections climb," they added.

"Somerset’s hard-working crews have been collecting around 20% more waste throughout much of the year. That makes it harder to complete rounds and means they have been working extended hours for a long time to keep up.

"Progress is being made, but the recent reopening of non-essential retail has increased demand for drivers and recruitment is especially difficult in Somerset because it is home to many distribution centres."