Garden and bulky waste services remain disrupted, says survey

Garden and bulky waste services remain disrupted and more Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) close while core collections services continue to be maintained, according to the latest Covid-19 local authority impacts survey.

The latest survey from the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) covering the week starting 20 April has found that there is a “downward trend in disruption to waste services”, with some exceptions.

The fourth edition of the survey gathered responses from more than 250 local authorities and is supported by the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO).

Garden and bulky waste services remain disrupted, says surveyOn the collections side, the results show that garden waste services are now operating normally in 56 per cent of councils surveyed, up by four per cent from last week, but that 28 per cent remain suspended. Meanwhile,52 per cent of bulky waste collections remain unavailable, with 30 per cent operating normally.

Since last week, the number of local authorities that have closed their Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) has increased to 98 per cent, up from 92 per cent.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick announced yesterday that he would be asking councils to reopen their HWRCs in the coming weeks, while ADEPT stated last week that they would be reopened in a “controlled and consistent” manner once the government revealed its strategy for exiting lockdown.

Core collections of residual waste and dry recycling, however, have largely been maintained with only minor disruption, with all councils providing residual collections with only some minor disruption and 98 per cent of councils providing recycling collections as normal or with only minor disruption.

Street sweeping and fly-tipping clearance services also continue to recover, with 46 per cent and 74 per cent respectively now operating normally.

Aside from HWRCs, disposal services continue to operate with minimal disruption, with open windrow composting facilities having recovered from mass closures at the start of the month, while landfill, energy-from-waste (EfW) and Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) are all operating with little to no disruption.

Staff returning to work

In terms of staff absence, the levels of workforce absence continue to fall, with 17 per cent of councils experiencing more than a 20 per cent workforce absence rate, with 74 per cent experiencing up to 20 per cent. Nine per cent of councils no report no impact on their workforce, the greatest level since the survey began.

For collection services, staff absence due to self isolation and sickness remain the main reasons for service disruption, with 58 per cent and 47 per cent of councils reporting these as primary reasons respectively.

Meanwhile, the effects of social distancing have hit disposal services hardest – mainly HWRCs – with 53 per cent of councils reporting this as a cause of disruption, up from 34 per cent last week.

The survey also reports continued increases in household waste arisings, with 92 per cent of respondents recording an increase in residual waste arisings, 88 per cent recording an increase in recycling arisings, and 76 per cent and 85 per cent report increases in food and garden waste respectively.

Social distancing impacts

Speaking on behalf of the key networks involved in the survey, 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.“

You can view ADEPT’s survey results in full on the association’s website.

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