25 February 2021 by Robyn White

ADEPT finds increased service disruption

Councils are seeing increased disruption to waste and recycling collections, the latest survey results from the Association of Directors of Environment, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has found. 

Published yesterday (24 February) for the week commencing 15 February, the figures show 69% of recycling collections were reported to be operating as normal, down from 75% shown in the last survey for the previous week.

Councils reported a greater level of disruption to recycling collections, but staff absence is down

Of responding local authorities, 21% reported minor disruptions to collections this week, compared to 15% in the last survey.

The levels of residual waste collections operating as normal has also fallen to 76%, compared to the previous weeks figure of 80%.


Despite this, the levels of disruption caused by staff absence is falling, but self-isolation continues to be the greatest cause.

The survey shows that 48% of councils identified self-isolating staff to be a cause for disruption in the week commencing 15 February, however this has fallen from 61% in the last survey. Sickness levels also fell from 46% to 28%.

ADEPT said that disruption may also be down to “other reasons”, such as severe weather, which accounted for 14% of disruption.

Commenting on the results, Steve Palfrey chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group said: “It is good news that the numbers for staff absences due to sickness or self-isolation are falling.

“The recent severe weather has also impacted on the provision of waste services, but the survey shows that local authorities are coping well and the high levels of disruption we saw in the first lockdown have not been repeated.”


Food waste services have improved since the last survey, with 72% of local authorities responding that collections are operating without issues, with unavailable services dropping by 4%.

Normal garden waste collections dropped slightly from 69% to 64%, with 33% of responding councils reporting minor to moderate disruptions.

Some bulky waste collections continue to see increased disruption, as the percentage of normal services drops for 73% to 75%. In total, 20% of authorities reported minor to moderate disruption to the service.

A table comparing the level of disruption to collection services to previous weeks, with green being a ‘normal’ service


Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) continue to see the highest levels of disruption for disposal services, with 50% of councils reporting minor disruption, which is a slight increase from the last survey’s figure of 47%.

However the survey also shows that there have been no closures, and no respondents are indicating severe service disruption.

Landfilling disposal services remains a “consistent picture”, as it has done since March, with 96% operating as normal, while Energy from Waste (EfW) services slightly improving, with an increase from 95% to 98%.

The operation of material recycling facilities (MRF) has also improved, moving from 86% to 90%.

A table comparing disruptions to disposal services to previous weeks


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