Essex calls on public to ‘respect’ HWRC staff

Essex county council has called on the public to show staff at household waste recycling centre (HWRCs) “the respect they deserve” following an “increasing amount” of abuse.

The Rayleigh Recycling Centre is one of 21 in-house HWRCs in Essex

The local authority said frontline staff regularly report incidents of threats and verbal abuse, as well as some members of the public ignoring site rules.

“In some cases, this has led to physical violence against site staff,” the council said.

Barry Dolphin, operations manager for the 21 in-house HWRCs across Essex, said: “Regrettably, those most at risk are those who are engaged in helping to provide an essential service.”

Essex county council will take “the necessary action” in regard to abusive or threatening behaviour directed at site staff, Mr Dolphin said.

HWRC operatives will now wear bodycams to enable the recording and reporting of incidents of abusive or threatening behaviour.

Essex county council is not the first to call for the public to show respect towards waste and recycling operatives, with previous incidents including an appeal from Suez after an assault on collection crew in Doncaster (see letsrecycle.com story).

Essex

Representing an estimated population of more than 1.8 million, Essex county council had a recycling rate of 49.8% in 2020/21.

Cllr Malcolm Buckley, Essex county council cabinet member for waste reduction and recycling

Essex brought the running of its HWRCs and waste transfer stations in-house in April following the conclusion of a contract with Veolia (see letsrecycle.com story).

Cllr Malcolm Buckley, Essex county council cabinet member for waste reduction and recycling, said: “Staff at Essex HWRCs are knowledgeable, informative and caring that all material deposited at recycling centres goes in the correct container.

“They are one of the reasons we have such a high recycling rate in Essex of 51%, well above the national average of 42%.”

Cllr Buckley warned that abuse of essential workers was “unacceptable”, and any incidents would be reported to the police. “We are asking for these essential workers, who keep our county clean and sustainable, to be shown the dignity and respect they deserve,” he added.

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