Councils have been advised to prioritise black bag waste collections over recycling during the coronavirus crisis.
New guidance from the Government warns any disruption to residual waste could pose a high risk to human health.
Although it hopes councils will still be able to continue with recycling collections, the guidance acknowledges that stopping recycling services if necessary would pose a much lower risk to people’s health.
It states: ‘Local authorities should seek to maintain current waste services as far as possible, including the separate collection of food waste and of dry recyclable materials.
‘However, we recognise that the current coronavirus pandemic is presenting some serious challenges and therefore appreciate and expect that local authorities will have to make decisions where necessary to change or close services temporarily, bearing in mind their statutory duties. It’s important that councils protect their regular collections of residual (black bag) waste, and prevent waste from building up.’
Under the guidance, councils have been asked to consider deploying other staff to waste management services and pooling resources with other local authorities.
Cllr David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: 'Any reduction in recycling collection services is a difficult decision for councils and will never be taken lightly. As this new guidance rightly recognises, decisions on waste and recycling services must always be based on local circumstances.'