WASTE and recycling collection crews will be starting their shifts extra early to avoid the worst of the heat during the extreme weather warning next week.

Staff are due to start their shifts as early as 5.30pm on Monday and Tuesday (July 18 and 19), when temperatures are forecast to hit more than 30degs C.

Householders are being urged to put out their boxes, bags and bins the night before to make sure they don't miss out.

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) and SUEZ are also urging people to be extra patient and take extra care to sort recycling into the right containers to help hard-pressed crews.

Crews are being supplied with hats, sun-screen and refillable water bottles to help keep them as cool as possible.

With more than 70,000 collections to make each day, they are also being encouraged to take short breaks in the shade if needed.

On average, a recycling loader can walk up to ten miles on a round, collecting from hundreds of homes and picking up nearly 1,000 boxes and bags.

Extreme heat makes that tough job even harder and that could mean some delayed collections.

SWP and its collections contractor SUEZ are asking for the public’s patience and a little bit of help in the extreme conditions.

Mickey Green, Somerset Cllr Sarah Dyke, chairman of Somerset Waste Board, issued a statement saying: “The crews do a great job, but it’s going to be tough going at the start of the week.

“They will be doing their very best to stay on track and the early starts should help. If there are delays we would ask for your understanding and they will be back as soon as possible.

“We’re seeing lots of examples of crews being given cold drinks and ice lollies on their rounds. That’s a very kind gesture that really helps and is hugely appreciated.”

Crews will be out this Saturday (July 16) to return for recycling collections missed in some parts of South Somerset and Mendip on Monday and Tuesday.

Crushing cans, squashing plastic bottles (lid back on afterwards), and flattening cardboard makes recycling easier and quicker to collection. It also means more can fit in the truck, reducing the need to go and empty it.

Storing food waste ready for recycling can be difficult in hot weather, but the following advice may help:

• Keep the food waste caddy and bin somewhere shady and cool.

• If it has to go, you can double-bag it and take it to a recycling site for the Energy from Waste skip.

• It can go into your kerbside rubbish bin – double-bagging reduces smells.

• If you have the space and time, home compost.