Jenrick to ask councils to reopen HWRCs in coming weeks
Robert Jenrick, the Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has said that local authorities will be asked to “plan the organised opening” of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in the coming weeks.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday (28 April), Jenrick stated: “Today I can announce that I am asking councils to plan the organised opening of household waste collection sites. I expect this to happen over the coming weeks, and I will be publishing amended guidance shortly.”
Jenrick referred to guidance released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on 7 April on how councils could endure the safety of refuse services, while praising the “fantastic job” done by waste workers in keeping the vast majority of waste and recycling collections going throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Almost all local authorities have taken the decision to close their HWRCs due to social distancing measures and staff absences, which have led them to prioritise kerbside waste and recycling collections. The latest impacts survey by the Association of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) shows that 98 per cent of councils surveyed have closed their HWRCs.
Following Defra’s call on 14 April for local authorities to reopen their HWRCs to allow people to dispose of their bulky waste and reduce fly-tipping, ADEPT stated that councils would reopen their HWRCs in a “controlled and consistent” manner once the government publishes its strategy for exiting the Covid-19 lockdown.
There has been debate in the waste management sector over the reopening of HWRCs, where Veolia has called them “essential” services that should be provided to residents, while SUEZ recycling and recovery UK warned that a reopening could divert resources from kerbside collection.
An additional poll carried out by SUEZ with 128 local authority representatives also found that not one of them considered HWRCs to be an ‘essential trip’ for householders during the pandemic.
However, despite the crisis Sheffield City Council has managed to keep its HWRCs, run by Veolia, open throughout the crisis, while other councils have begun to reopen theirs, such as Wigan last week, and all five Merseyside councils, which will be open from Monday 4 May.
Strict measures will be in place to enforce social distancing and reduce the amount of people on site, including one per person per vehicle, only small cars and vans allowed, traffic management to prevent queues and residents being asked for their postcode.