William Eichler 15 July 2020

Waste collections ‘return to normal’

The majority of local authorities are now reporting that they have returned to normal operations of residual waste collections despite the continuing impact of Covid-19.

The 13th waste impact survey from the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) covers the week beginning 6th July and shows 94% of responding councils are reporting normal operations of residual waste collections - up 4% from the last survey.

It also shows that 80% of recycling collections are operating normally alongside 85% of garden waste collections.

There is still minor disruption to food waste collections, bulky waste collection, street sweeping and bring bank operations with between 74% and 79% of councils reporting these services to be operating as normal.

Nearly all (98%) councils report clinical waste collections operating normally, with 90% reporting the same for fly tipping clearance. Waste volumes remain high with the largest increases in recycling, residual, garden and food waste.

Only 69% of councils are operating commercial waste collections as normal with 16% reporting severe disruption. 75% are reporting lower tonnages of commercial waste. This is a significant increase on the level of disruption from the last survey and is probably a consequence of the relaxing of the lockdown and increase in service demand.

HWRC services continue to improve with 31% of councils reporting HWRCs to be operating as normal, with a further 54% reporting only minor disruption.

Staff absence levels continue to improve with 31% of councils reporting normal levels and only 1% reporting greater than 20%.

The impacts of social distancing remain the largest contributor to disruption in disposal services - with 30% of councils reporting it as a factor - although the trend is reducing for this and all other reasons.

Disposal services are all operating with minimal disruption although MRFs continue to display some levels of moderate or minor disruption for 15% of councils. For the first time all councils report MBT and open windrow composting services to be operating as normal.

Ian Fielding, chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group said: ‘The survey highlights how waste services are returning to normal or a stable level of operation.

‘The rise in tonnage and impacts on the collections of commercial waste services is to be expected as people spend more time at home but it will be interesting to see how things change as the lockdown is relaxed and there is a lift across wider sectors of the economy.’

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