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

14 April 2020

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

Networks including the Local Authority Recycling Advisory committee (LARAC), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO) have combined forces to understand the changing status of waste services across England, and the continuing impacts of Covid-19.

Over 250 local authorities have responded to the waste services surveys and analysis of this second survey shows that the core collections services – household waste and recycling - are continuing to be maintained. Of those councils completing the survey,  99% are continuing to collect residual waste normally or with only minor disruption, and 98% for recycling collections. In addition, there has been a slight reduction in both staff absences and a smaller impact on services than was found in the first survey.

The biggest impacts are on collection services are for bulky and garden waste where there are large numbers of authorities who have had to stop collecting so they can focus on the core services. However, the numbers are less than last week suggesting that some authorities are starting to reintroduce these services as staff absences reduce. Over 90% of household waste recycling centres are closed with the remainder suffering high levels of disruption. 

The impact of lockdown with more people than usual staying at home has led to more waste and recyclables being collected from homes than normal, although there has been a significant decrease in the volume of commercial waste collected by local authorities as pubs and clubs as well as most shops and offices are closed

Fly tipping has increased in just over half of the local authority areas although there are large numbers reporting no change or even reductions. 

Speaking on behalf of these key networks Ian Fielding, Chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group said: “I am grateful to all the local authorities who took the time to complete the survey. The emerging picture for waste services is encouraging, particularly as we can see slightly less impact on collections despite local authorities continuing to suffer high levels of absence and having more household waste and recycling to manage.

“It is disappointing to see an increase in fly tipping, although this is by no means universal and fly tipping clearance services are running almost as normal.. We would encourage householders to check that anyone offering to remove their bulky waste is licensed to do so.”

Householders can ask to see someone’s permit or check whether they are authorised to collect waste on the Environment Agency website here: https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers

The weekly waste impacts survey has been designed to take only a few minutes to complete. The results of all waste surveys are available here.