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Household Waste Recycling Centres feeling the pressure - local authorities publish 18th report into impact of Covid-19 on waste services

24 February 2021

Only 40% of responding councils report that their Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are operating normally according to the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) 18th waste impacts survey.

The survey, which examines the impacts of COVID-19 on waste services in England, is run in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO). 

Covering the week beginning 15th February, the figures for HWRCs are down on the previous survey and indicate that some have been impacted both by COVID-19 and recent severe weather. However, the survey also shows that there have been no closures and no respondents are indicating severe service disruption.

Up to 30% of collection authority areas responding to the survey are reporting slight disruption to core collection services. 76% are reporting residual waste services operating as normal, with 69% reporting normal recycling services. These figures are lower than the previous fortnight, and again, probably reflect the combined impacts of COVID-19 and severe weather on waste collections.

Food waste services have improved since the last survey, with only 27% reporting minor disruptions and all responding local authorities continuing to provide services. For garden waste collections, 33% of responding authorities are reporting minor to moderate disruption. 98% are reporting no disruption to commercial waste services, but bulky waste collections have dropped from 73% operating normally, to 65%.

Fortunately, the levels of staff absence due to sickness (28%) or social distancing (24%) are down from the last survey. Adverse weather conditions were reported by 14% of councils as a reason for disruption. 

Speaking on behalf of these key networks Steve Palfrey Chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group said: “It is good news that the numbers for staff absences due to sickness or self-isolation are falling. The recent severe weather has also impacted on the provision of waste services, but the survey shows that local authorities are coping well and the high levels of disruption we saw in the first lockdown have not been repeated.” 

The results of all waste surveys are available here.