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Avoid Rushing to the Rubbish Tip When They Re-Open- Councils Warn

Published: 4 May 2020

Avoid Rushing to the Rubbish Tip When They Re-Open – Councils Warn

Residents are being urged by councils to avoid rushing to the rubbish tip when they begin to reopen, and to think carefully about whether they really need to go.

Both the District Councils’ Network and County Councils’ Network are instead advising households to “reduce, reuse and recycle” waste where possible, supporting councils that are continuing household waste collections.

It comes amid fears there will be a surge in demand as the Government asks councils to reopen Household, Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRC), the majority of which have been closed due to coronavirus.

Council leaders are warning that even with the centres gradually reopening over the next few weeks, not everyone will necessarily be able to enter if there are high numbers of visitors queuing to get in, due to the need to socially distance.

Ahead of guidance being issued, the DCN and CCN are calling on the Government to set out what constitutes an essential journey to the tip in its forthcoming guidance to local authorities on re-opening the facilities.

Council waste collection crews have continued to do an amazing job despite the challenging circumstances, and the impact of coronavirus on staffing levels. District and county councils have worked closely together to make sure kerbside collections continue to operate.

Nearly all councils have reported higher than usual levels of waste in recent weeks.

Latest figures show that:-

  • 89 per cent of councils responding continue to operate normal residual/landfill waste with the remainder still in operation but with minor disruption
  • Four in five recycling collections continue to operate as normal
  • Around two-thirds of food waste collections run as normal while the remainder operate with minor disruption
  • Nearly a third of councils are operating a normal bulky waste collection service
  • 16 per cent of council waste teams have seen a 20-40 per cent reduction on staffing levels. Almost two thirds say the greatest reported cause for disruption to collection services continues to be staff absence due to self-isolation, while 39 per cent cite disruption as a result of social distancing

Local residents are asked to do their bit and help to reduce the burden on waste teams by reducing and recycling waste, or reusing where possible.

Councils are also appealing to households to consider how they can store waste or arrange for it to be collected rather than make an avoidable trip to an HWRC.

Cllr Dan Humphreys, District Councils’ Network Lead Member for Enhancing Quality of Life, said:

“We are asking people to think twice before heading to the waste and recycling centres as soon as they reopen. We appreciate how hard people have been working to keep on top of waste but we would like to stress that it won’t be possible for everyone to suddenly get rid of any rubbish they have built up over recent weeks all in one go.

“The last thing anyone wants to see is queues of cars trying to get into the tip. Government advice is still that only essential travel should be made, and we need the Government to clarify what that should be in relation to visits to waste and recycling centres.

“Rather than go straight to the tip, please think carefully about how you manage and dispose of your waste, and by reducing, recycling and reusing anything you would normally throw out as rubbish, you can make a big difference.

“Local waste collection teams are doing everything they can to continue collecting household waste and keep any disruption to a minimum, in spite of the hugely challenging times we are in. For this we should all be extremely grateful and recognise their efforts.”

Cllr Sam Corcoran, communities and environment spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said:

“Currently the majority of recycling centres in the country are closed, but many had begun preparations to open them even before the government requested councils do so.

“However, make no mistake: this will present a host of challenges for local councils in terms of social distancing and traffic management, and so their re-opening will likely be a gradual process over the coming weeks. We are anticipating a significant amount of material being taken to the recycling centres shortly after they are opened. This will put pressure on recycling processes and in some cases may mean that more waste than usual is sent to landfill in the initial period after reopening.

“We would encourage residents to only take a trip to their recycling centre if absolutely necessary, reusing or recycling items using kerbside collections wherever possible.”


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