Scotland HWRCs restricted reopening prompts queues

Scottish Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) reopened with restrictions yesterday (1 June) to long queues, with one centre having to close briefly.

An image of cars queuing
Image:ZeroWaste Scotland

Most HWRCs across Scotland reopened yesterday as part of a coordinated approach having been closed since the end of March as part of lockdown measures implemented by the Scottish Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week (28 May), as recycling centres prepared to reopen, Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) called on members of the public to only visit their local recycling centre if waste cannot be stored safely at home.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham stressed that not all centres would reopen and those that do will be "operating differently for the foreseeable future”.

Authorities have advised the public to plan ahead, check their local authority website and social media channels to confirm what recycling centres have reopened in their area and consult the rules for operation, opening hours, availability and items being accepted.

In Glasgow for example, the council has stated its HWRCs will only accept black bags of household waste and said residents should not bring any other material to the sites such as electrical items or garden waste, as bays for other waste streams will not be available and they will not be recycled.

Queuing has been reported at sites across the country due to strict measures on the number of vehicles allowed to access the sites at any one time to ensure physical distancing between individuals to stop the spread of coronavirus.

As a result of heavy traffic, the Roughmute centre in Falkirk was shut briefly yesterday morning by police for traffic management purposes as queues built along the road in Bonnybridge. A spokesperson for the council said that there were no queues on its reopening today (2 June), however the council “still urges anyone to plan ahead, look online at the traffic maps and consider waiting a few days until making their journey”.

Aberdeen’s Evening Express reported that Aberdeen recycling centres had also been experiencing high traffic yesterday resulting in ‘big queues’ and 60 cars per hour visiting the Hazlehead site.

An Aberdeen Council spokesperson told the Evening Express that: “Some queueing was expected following the reopening of the household waste and recycling centres, especially in the morning, and measures have been put in place to help manage demand.

“These measures include restricting the size of vehicles and range of materials accepted to help maximise the throughput of traffic. In addition, there are traffic restrictions in place and marshals are directing and managing traffic on approach to the centres."

The spokesperson advised that "residents should only come if necessary and, if they do need to come, consider visiting later in the day, when the initial queues may have dissipated”.

Councils are also asking residents to respect staff with North Ayrshire asking residents via Twitter to "be kind" and "patient with our staff who have worked hard to open the site safely".

Cunningham said last Thursday: “Phase One of Scotland’s route map through and out of lockdown is to proceed, as set out by the First Minister today. This includes the re-opening of some HWRCs, which will build on those core, critical waste services that the sector has worked tirelessly to maintain in difficult circumstances.

“I must stress that councils will not open all recycling centres on 1 June, and those that do will be operating differently for the foreseeable future. I would therefore urge the public to check the guidelines applicable to their area, show patience and act responsibly, treating staff with respect as they undertake a challenging task. Public health, together with the health, safety and wellbeing of our waste operators, remains our top priority.”

Adrian Bond, Zero Waste Scotland spokesperson for recycling, added: “We understand there are a lot of people who have been keen to visit recycling centres and that the reduced collections due to lockdown has coincided with what is usually a busy period of the year.

“We are grateful to those who have had to be patient to dispose of their waste and would urge people to only visit recycling centres if they can’t safely store their waste at home or in their garden any longer. For those that do visit, please plan ahead – check your local authority website or social media channels first so you know which recycling centre to go to, that they will accept the waste you have and what to expect on site.”

You can read more information about the Scottish HWRCs reopening on Zero Waste Scotland's website.