City making every effort to clear refuse collection backlog

28 MARCH 2020


The City of Cape Town assures residents that every effort is being made to maintain delivery of basic services despite the threat posed by COVID-19. We have taken every legal step available to address the backlog in refuse collections and have procured the services of two private contractors to assist with collections. Our external service providers have also committed to working extended hours to work on major repairs so that more trucks can be released as quickly as possible and continue to reduce the backlog.

The delay in servicing of refuse bins across the City is a result of a pre-existing challenge in the procurement of vehicle repairs, as well as challenges among staff earlier this week, primarily pertaining to personal protective equipment. The latter has been resolved by union leadership and management staff.

The City is committed to ensuring the well-being of staff while fulfilling our responsibility to continue delivering essential services.

Every effort is also being made to provide our staff with the appropriate personal protective gear (PPE), including gloves and masks, to ensure that they are adequately protected while performing their duties. Staff have been fully briefed on hygienic practices and social distancing protocols to be implemented during this time.

Residents are asked to bear with us as in some cases it may be unavoidable that mitigation measures could affect the efficiency of service delivery. For instance, there is currently a staggering demand for various types of PPE especially masks and gloves in the country, therefore there may be some delays in procuring these items.

At this stage, it is difficult to predict the impact to services going forward. Residents should be aware, however, that lower income and higher density areas are being prioritised when there are delays due to increased risks of the disease spreading quickly in these areas.

Current indications are that delays should not last for more than a week, and in most cases, backlogs will be cleared more quickly.

During this time:

  • Residents are requested to please bring their bins out by 06:30 in the morning, and leave them outside until 21:00 until collected. The City’s Solid Waste teams will continue to work on weekends to clear any backlog which still exists
  • Excess refuse that cannot fit in the wheelie bins will also be collected until this problem is resolved. Residents are also implored not to resort to illegal dumping if collection delays cause refuse to build-up to the point where it cannot fit in the wheelie bins
  • We request that all waste coming from a property where someone has been diagnosed with, or is showing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, is double-bagged
  • We ask that residents please practice social distancing and not approach staff members as they go about their duties

Bin care

  • Please wash and disinfect their wheelie bin regularly, especially when placing it outside and when bringing it back inside
  • Please retain and freeze any meat product (i.e. leftover food in the form of chicken, red meat, off cuts, etc.) until collection day before placing into the bin, so as to prevent fly breeding
  • Store your bin in a cool place, avoiding direct exposure to the sun, to reduce/prevent flies breeding in your bin
  • Where possible, practice home composting, this will allow further space in the bin during this period. Visit on how to do home composting
  • Please remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your waste

Residents are encouraged to submit service requests using the following channels:

Residents should please always remember to take note of the reference number provided.

 Update on other Solid Waste Management services

The following arrangements have been made regarding COVID-19 lockdown business continuity planning for the Disposal Branch of the Solid Waste Management Department.

The Disposal Branch is part of the essential services of the City of Cape Town and will therefore ensure that all landfill disposal and refuse transfer stations remain operational. The operating hours will be maintained as per the normal operational hours.

Facilities or activities CLOSED to the public during the lockdown:

  • Drop-off facilities
  • Household hazardous waste drop-off facilities at Bellville Refuse Transfer Station and Athlone Refuse Transfer Stations
  • The Bellville Composting Plant
  • The beneficiation of green waste and building rubble will not take place at the disposal facilities. This will therefore mean that no garden greens and building rubble can be brought to the facility

Essential operations during lockdown

  • Collection of recycling from areas receiving the Think Twice service will continue
  • Special waste, as defined in the Tariff Policy of the City of Cape Town, will only be accepted on request and in emergency situations. Compliance with permit conditions will be adhered to.


Street cleaning services will continue in the city, particularly in informal settlement areas, high-density areas and central business districts

 Numerous resources have been made available to the public regarding COVID-19. These include:

Note to broadcasters: an audio clip is available for download

Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town