Councils ramp up measures to combat coronavirus

West Sussex county council has closed all its household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) as councils across the UK alter waste services in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

West Sussex council is taking the governments advice into account

Other local authorities have introduced new measures at their facilities, while collections have been suspended in some parts of the country.

All 11 HWRCs in West Sussex, from Chichester to East Grinstead, have been closed as the council tries to enforce social distancing.

A West Sussex County Council statement on Twitter reads: “All Household Waste Recycling Sites across West Sussex are now closed until further notice due to the current Covid-19 situation.

“This is to reinforce the need for social distancing, protecting staff and highway safety.”


However, all the HWRCs run by the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA) remain open.

“The welfare of our facility users is of the utmost importance to us”


To ensure the safety of those who visit and those who work there, people who use the centres have been asked to wear gloves.

An MRWA spokesperson said: “The welfare of our facility users is of the utmost importance to us. Everyone using the centres who is not otherwise advised to self-isolate should wear gloves and avoid getting too close to other people on the sites.

“We are reviewing the coronavirus situation regularly and are following the advice and guidance of the government and Public Health England.”

MRWA says any significant changes to services and facilities will be communicated as soon as possible. It warns changes may have to be made at relatively short notice.


Covid-19 has caused disruption to several services run by the Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP). As is the case elsewhere, the region’s HWRCs have been closed.

Somerset Waste Partnership manages recycling and waste services on behalf of Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, and Somerset West and Taunton council and Somerset county council

An SWP statement reads: “Due to the large number of users at recycling sites, it has been impossible to maintain the required social distancing to ensure the safety of both our teams and users of the facilities.

“In order to protect members of the public and employees, all 16 recycling sites will be closed until they can be operated safely.

“In the meantime, it is strongly recommended that everyone should follow the government advice and stay at home.”

Bulky waste and garden and food waste collections have been suspended, as has the ‘Slim My Waste, Feed My Face’ campaign. To date, this campaign has driven up recycling rates by 30%, according to the SWP (see story).


The London Borough of Bexley says it is to change its waste services to focus on refuse collection during the coming weeks.

In June 2019 residents of Bexley gained new wheeled recycling bins

The collections of food waste and garden waste have been suspended, while the fortnightly collections of recycling are to be changed to every four weeks.

Cabinet member for places councillor Peter Craske said: “This is a time like no other to #doitforbexley. You can help by cutting down your waste, taking yours and a neighbour’s waste or recycling to one of the waste centres or banks and pass on this information to those who may not receive it. Please bear with us during this time.”

The borough’s reuse and recycling centres remain open for residents to dispose of garden waste and recycling free of charge, though the council warns this situation may change depending on the level of staff absence.

Councillor Craske added: “These are trying times for us all.”


In Birmingham the city council says it is to continue household waste and recycling collections as scheduled, though they are to monitor the impact of the school closures which began today.

However, the council has said it has suspended bookings on its bulky waste collection service to redirect resources to domestic waste and recycling collections.

And, while Birmingham’s HWRCs remain open, residents are asked not to visit them if they or one of their family members are in the self-isolation period of 14 days.

Birmingham city council has asked residents concerned they may have the virus to follow government guidance to tie and double-bag their waste before waiting 72 hours to dispose of it

East Devon

In East Devon bulky household waste and green waste collections have been suspended until further notice.

A selection of the waste containers used by residents of East Devon

However, all other recycling, waste, food, clinical and dog bin collections are operating as normal. East Devon district council says it is prioritising these areas for reasons of hygiene.

A council statement reads: “We will give priority to food waste, refuse and dog bin collections for public hygiene reasons. We will only suspend these collections as a last resort.

“Our second priority will be to make as many dry recycling (green sack and green recycling box) and clinical waste collections as we can each day depending upon staffing levels.”


Due to staff shortages, Leeds city council is prioritising the collection of black bins, though it is also endeavouring to collect green bins.

“We would advise residents to increase composting”

Leeds city council

The collection of brown bins, which are provided for garden waste, has not been suspended, but residents have been told that if the bins are not emptied having been presented on the scheduled day, they must be taken back inside until the next scheduled collection.

A Leeds city council spokesperson said: “We would advise residents to increase composting, reduce gardening activities such as grass cutting and pruning, and use the household waste and recycling sites where brown bin waste is accepted for free (subject to these facilities staying open).”

Kensington and Chelsea

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has announced that, as of 20 March, its ‘Too Big for the Bin’ collection service has been suspended until further notice.

In September 2019 Kensington and Chelsea approved plans to spend £3 million to upgrade its refuse collection fleet

Previously, if they had larger items they wished to throw away, for £32.60 Kensington and Chelsea residents could arrange for the council to collect and dispose of most furniture and household items from residential properties within the borough.

Residents have now been told all jobs scheduled for after 20 March have been cancelled and refunds for all paid collections are to be processed as soon as possible.

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