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Local Authorities publish fourth report into impact of Covid-19 on waste services

28 April 2020

In partnership with key local authority network groups, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), has published the findings from its fourth waste impacts survey. 

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), the Local Government Association (LGA), the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO) and ADEPT are working alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to monitor the continuing impacts of Covid-19 on waste services across England. Over 250 local authorities have so far responded to the surveys.

The results of the fourth survey show that overall there is a downward trend in disruption to waste services, but with some exceptions.

The core collections services – household waste and recycling - continue to be maintained, with levels of disruption reducing. Of the councils completing this survey, all are continuing to collect residual waste normally or with only minor disruption, with 98% for recycling collections. The levels of disruption for street sweeping, litter collections and clearance of fly-tipping have reduced significantly.

In line with the current government guidelines on essential journeys, 98% of household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) are closed, which is an increase from the last survey. Bulky and garden waste collections are still subject to disruption, but 30% of bulky waste collections are operating normally, which is double that reported in the survey conducted w/c 30th March.

The reason for continued disruption is mainly due to staff absence, which has been reducing, but there is also evidence to show that social distancing is having an impact.

There continues to be increased volume of household waste and recycling with people still in lockdown and spending more time in their homes. Conversely, amounts of Local authority collected commercial waste is significantly reduced from pre Covid 19 times.

Speaking on behalf of these key networks Ian Fielding, Chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group said: “The survey shows how hard our waste services are working to keep the disruption caused by Covid-19 to a minimum and I want to pay tribute to our teams on the ground. 

“As we plan for coming out of lockdown, we are beginning to see how social distancing will impact on future services. We are monitoring this situation closely and reviewing how a new ‘business as usual’ might look. This week’s survey will try to get a better understanding on when councils are preparing to open HWRCs. The reopening of HWRCs is something we all want to see happen as soon as possible, but our highest priority must be to keep our workforce and members of the public safe. Sites will need to operate in line with police and government guidance on enforcing continued social distancing measures, and we look forward to understanding more about how councils are responding to these pressures in future weeks. “

The weekly waste impacts survey has been designed to take only a few minutes to complete. The results of all waste surveys are available on the ADEPT website: https://www.adeptnet.org.uk/covid-19-waste-survey-results.