City’s waste management during lockdown: What residents need to know


Waste management is classified as an essential service and the City of Cape Town is committed to ensuring that delivery of basic services is maintained throughout the lockdown period. Given that these are unprecedented circumstances, however, it is possible that COVID-19 mitigation measures may impact on the efficiency of service delivery. While every precaution is being taken to avoid this occurring, we ask that residents bear with us in the event of unavoidable scenarios.

The City would like to provide residents with an update of key services related to recycling, refuse collection, and cleaning of public areas. In addition, we would like to provide guidance around the operation of private waste management companies.

For a quick look, please consult the chart below:

Standard refuse collectionService has stabilised after a period of disruption in recent weeks. Normal collections schedule now able to resume.
Think Twice collection of clean, dry recyclables in participating areasDesignated service operational during the lockdown
Private recycling collectionPermitted by accredited service providers in possession of an essential services letter
Drop-off sitesClosed to the public
Litter picking/street cleaningDesignated service operational during the lockdown (see pictures)


Recycling collection and operation of private waste management companies

The City’s Think Twice recycling collection service continues to operate in participating areas. 

The City advises that only accredited private recycling collection and waste management companies are permitted to continue operations.

  • If you are an accredited waste management company, and have not yet received an essential services permit letter, please contact  [email protected], quote your accreditation number and request this letter.
  • If you are not accredited, it is still possible to apply to operate legally in Cape Town. Please find information on how to apply here or contact the e-mail address listed above for guidance. Please also be advised that no private collections company is compelled to operate during this time, and those who do operate should take appropriate measures to minimise risk to staff.

Where residents are unable to access an operational recycling service, we request that you please stockpile clean and dry recyclables until the lockdown has been lifted to reduce stress on the collections service and prevent the landfilling of recyclable waste. We appeal to residents or businesses who contract with private recycling collectors to remain loyal to these service providers, even if they are not operating during these unprecedented times.

City drop-off facilities are closed to the general public

  • National lockdown regulations require that City drop-off facilities are closed to the public during this time, as residents have been instructed to stay at home.
  • Residents who normally make use of these facilities are urged to please stockpile their clean, dry recyclables until the lockdown period is lifted. We ask that these items are brought to the drop-offs when national regulations allow public access to resume. Please ensure these items are completely dried out before stockpiling.
  • Please also do not dispose of your recyclables in your general waste bins. Recyclables are often bulky in nature and take up valuable space in landfills, and the added volumes also place pressure on the refuse collection services.

Refuse collection:

Recent challenges to the refuse collection service have now been resolved and the service has stabilised. We thank residents for their patience while we worked to normalise operations.

The delays in the service over recent weeks were a result of a pre-existing challenge in the procurement of vehicle repairs. Delays were exacerbated by the disruptive effect of the lockdown announcement.

It is unclear what impact COVID-19 and lockdown measures could have on staff availability going forward, and as such, residents should be aware that delays beyond this period are still possible.

Should delays in refuse collection be experienced:

·               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 bags 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.

During this time, every effort is 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.

Our staff have been fully briefed on hygienic practices and social distancing protocols to be implemented during this time. We ask that residents please practice social distancing and not approach staff members as they go about their duties.

The City is committed to ensuring the well-being of staff while fulfilling our responsibility to continue delivering essential services. We applaud the teams who are out on the road every day working to ensure our waste is collected and public spaces are kept clean. This occurs all year round and is sometimes taken for granted, but the importance of the work they do has now come into much sharper focus, and the staff deserve every bit of the appreciation they are being shown. We salute their commitment and dedication. 

Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town