Local authority organisations release HWRC reopening guidance

Local authority networks have released a guidance document on reopening Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

The document, released yesterday (4 May), details the steps that local authorities will have to take before reopening HWRCs and measures that will have to be in place to ensure their safe operation, including social distancing, traffic management procedures, health and safety and appropriate opening hours.

Local authority organisations release HWRC reopening guidanceCouncils have come under increasing pressure to reopen HWRCs, with Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick stating that councils would be asked to “plan the organised opening” of HWRCs in the coming weeks amid reports of increased levels of fly-tipping across England and continued disruption to some waste collection services.

The document has been compiled by the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO), the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), the Association of Directors of Economy, Environment, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) and London Waste And Recycling Board (LWARB).

The local authority networks warn that there may be issues with service demand if only some HWRCs are reopened and certain local authorities open ahead of their neighbours. The guidance advises opening the largest HWRCs first and trying to align with neighbouring authorities.

With regard to social distancing, the document advises that ‘it may be appropriate or even necessary to change the layout of the site to allow for social distancing’. Things to take into consideration include:

  • Identify whether the two-metre social distancing requirement can be maintained with the existing layout.
  • Assess whether barriers can be sourced to enforce physical separation and whether markings can be put on the ground.
  • Staff may be required to be located around the HWRC to ensure that visitors are observing the two-metre social distancing rules.
  • Signage on the site and in the queueing area should advise visitors that social distancing measures are in place and are being strictly enforced.
  • Container access points such as steps should only be occupied by one person at a time.
  • If containers need to be moved or taken away altogether, assess the impacts on the range of materials that can be accepted so that this can be communicated from the outset to customers.
  • Produce revised operational procedures to manage any reduction in capacity that a reduction in the number of containers may cause.
  • Plan for occasional general dumping if customers/visitors cannot deposit waste from their vehicles into containers directly themselves.
  • Internal and external traffic management needs.

Contractual and financial issues should be taken into consideration, according to the local authority networks, including:

  • Relief required from contractual conditions recycling performance
  • Customer/visitor satisfaction levels
  • Container availability and transport/ haulage
  • Waiting times/queuing
  • Complaints response targets/ SLAs/ KPIs

The document also advises that a ‘thorough and robust’ communications strategy will be required to inform residents of the changes and this should be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

All HWRCs should also ensure a ‘steady and sufficient supply’ of personal protective equipment (PPE), with staff to be issued with gloves and briefed on regular washing of hands whenever they take off their gloves. Staff should be trained in the use of any forms of PPE they do not usually wear.

Commenting on the document, Gurbaksh Badhan, Chair of NAWDO, said: “The guide provides a number of considerations for local authorities in devising plans for restarting the recycling centre services. We hope colleagues across local authorities find the guide useful and can adapt to best fit their local needs. Customers using the HWRCs will see noticeable changes. The sites will look and feel different to enable social distancing, this could include the phased restart of the HWRC service.

“Some may introduce a booking system or certain waste streams may not be accepted straight away, for further information please check your local authority’s website. Anyone intending to visit the recycling centres is reminded to visit only if you need to and remember to keep two meters apart. Where possible and available use your kerbside collection services rather than visiting a recycling centre. Like many other sector services, the recycling centre service will need to be kept under review to reflect any changes in the national advice.’’

You can view the HWRC guidance document in full here. PDF icon Coronavirus - Restarting Household Waste Recycling Centre Service

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