Waste and recycling businesses in London and South East England are offering service provision to help local authorities who are short of crews and drivers.
And, the Recycling Association is also supporting the idea of the private sector helping local authorities (see below).
An online meeting was held last week between the London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB) and other local authority stakeholders to discuss the potential provision by the companies in the face of diminished crew numbers relating to the coronavirus epidemic.
But, no formal discussions have yet taken place although these are expected soon, potentially at London level under LWARB and more nationally by Defra.
The London Environment Directors organisation – LEDNET – and LWARB told letsrecycle.com that they and other key stakeholders in London “are working closely right now to explore the opportunity for public and private waste management companies to work together during the COVID-19 crisis.”
In a statement the London bodies said: “It’s more important than ever that we keep the flow of materials moving – so maintaining household recycling and waste collections will be a priority for London boroughs over the coming weeks. We’re talking with a number of boroughs and private contractors and are looking to draft a Heads of Terms that will enable them to come together quickly at this very difficult time.”
Large waste companies, including Biffa, Suez and Viridor are already thought to have offered service help in London through the Environmental Services Association. The major waste companies have spare capacity because commercial waste volumes have shrunk.
Smaller and medium-sized businesses are also keen to play a part. Participants in last week’s meeting with LWARB included First Mile, Grundon, Paperround/BPR Group and Simply Waste.
First Mile chief executive Bruce Bratley told letsrecycle.com that it was important for recycling levels to be maintained and that materials are needed to provide a secondary resource for UK industry. “If a local authority wants to find 15-30 crew members and drivers it is unlikely they will find a supplier at present. This is where private operators will be able to step in and help provide an emergency service.”
And, Mr Bratley added while medium-sized businesses would be able to help immediately, this would be even more so in three weeks when any furloughed operatives could be made available.
Bradley Smith, director of Grundon Waste Management, said that the company was also willing to help: “We have had a number of conversations with councils already and are ready to help local authorities.”
And members of the Recycling Association could help out across the UK. Association chief executive, Simon Ellin, said: “I am sure there will be a number of members who will be able to help councils out with staffing shortages. At times like this, it is so important on many levels that we all work together for the greater good. The Recycling Association would be happy to collaborate and coordinate with DEFRA to deliver this.”