Rising disruption to residual and recycling collections, says survey

Residual and recycling collection have been experiencing increases in disruption for the past three weeks and commercial collections remain significantly disrupted, according to the latest Covid-19 local authority (LA) impacts survey.

The latest survey from the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) covers the week starting 8 June and is the tenth Covid-19 impacts survey.

Whilst core collections remain relatively stable, 17 per cent of LAs report minor disruption within residual waste collection services and 27 per cent for recycling collections In both services, this is an increase in disruption from previous weeks; an increase of two per cent and five per cent respectively.

Similarly, commercial collection services are still significantly disrupted: just over half of LAs report services as operating as normal, with 31 per cent experiencing moderate disruption.

However, other collection services continue to improve such as food, bulky waste collections and street sweepings services, the amount of councils reporting increase in normal operations within these services has risen by three per cent, five per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

Most disposal services are operating with minimal disruption. For landfill, energy from waste, mechanical biological treatment, in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion, open windrow composting and transfer station operations, the trend continues to be low and falling levels of disruption. Some remaining problems persist with materials recycling facility (MRF) operations for 18 per cent of councils.

However, there has been a recorded increase in levels of moderate disruption at Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs), though all but one per cent are now open. Currently, 81 per cent LAs report HWRCs are experiencing minor/moderate disruption, an increase of six per cent since last week.

The effects of social distancing continue to be the biggest cause of disruption for collection and disposal services for 41 per cent and 51 per cent of LAs respectively, up from 37 and 35 per cent last week.

Put in place to reduce the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus, the two-metre social distancing rule is now under review, with the government review being led by the Number 10 permanent secretary Simon Case after MPs, businesses and the public have called for its removal.

Working alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO), ADEPT is monitoring the continuing impacts of Covid-19 on waste services across England.

Speaking on behalf of these key networks Ian Fielding, Chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group, said: “The slight increases in disruption we are seeing in some areas corresponds to improvements in others, and shows that councils are effectively balancing available resources to cover service priorities.

“Overall, services continue to improve incrementally as councils work out new operating methods. This is testament to the ingenuity of the sector, and the commitment of local government, our partners and our staff to providing high quality public services.”

You can read the full ADEPT survey on its website.