12 May 2020 by James Langley

More recycling services disrupted, survey finds

Recycling collections are seeing increased levels of disruption and sorting/treatment for recyclables are also being impacted during the coronavirus pandemic, the latest council survey shows.

The findings come in the survey results from the Association of Directors of Environment, Planning and Transport (ADEPT). They show 74% of councils who responded say they ran recycling collections as normal during the week commencing 4 May, down 4% from the previous week.

However, 91% of councils reported their residual collections were operating as normal, up from 88%.

Food waste

As shown in the table below, the number of local authorities saying other recycling collections were running as normal has also fallen, with food waste showing significantly more disruption. In contrast the picture for garden waste collections looks to be improving a little.

Graph showing percentages of local authorities reporting collection services operating as normal (courtesy of ADEPT)

The figures for those reporting that their commercial, clinical and fly-tipping collections continue to operate as normal have all either increased or remained the same.


Some 94% of local authorities who reported their household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) as closed in the week commencing 4 May say they have plans in place to reopen their sites.

More than half (52%) of the local authorities said the reopening would occur in the next week, while a further 40% said it would take place within the next fortnight.

In total, 86% of HWRCs were reported to be unavailable during the week in which the survey data was collected. While many HWRCs have this week reopened across England, sites in Scotland remain closed (see letsrecycle.com story).


An HWRC in Leicestershire

The plans to open HWRCs were welcomed by Ian Fielding, chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group, who said: “This week has seen HWRCs reopen across the country. We continue to monitor the situation closely as councils respond to government guidance and work out how to operate sites in line with social distancing requirements.

“The safety of our operatives and the public remains paramount so inevitably some HWRCs will need to remain closed if appropriate safety measures cannot be implemented.

“The safety of our operatives and the public remains paramount”

Ian Fielding

“It is encouraging to see our household waste and recycling services return to normal across so many local authorities and demonstrates the hard work and commitment of our essential workers across the country.”

Waste disposal

ADEPT has been working with the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, the Local Government Association and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers to monitor the continuing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on waste services across England.

The survey results have consistently suggested that greater levels of disruption have been reported for recycling sorting and processing services than for these dealing with residual waste, ADEPT says.

As shown in the table below, 80% of services offered at material recycling facilities were reported to be operating as normal in the week commencing 4 May, up from 75% the previous week.

Most landfilling (98%) and energy from waste(95%) disposal services were reported to be operating as normal by local authorities. These figures represented respective increases of 5% and 2%.

Graph showing percentages of local authorities reporting disposal services operating as normal (courtesy of ADEPT)


The methodology by which the data received via the surveys was analysed changed slightly this week to take into account responses made on behalf of other authorities, ADEPT says.

Where previously percentages were based on the share of survey respondents, now percentages are based on the share of local authorities represented within each week’s survey responses.

ADEPT says this methodology provides a more accurate representation of council waste services and does not materially change any of the reported findings from previous surveys.

Related links
ADEPT survey


To post your comment, please login or signup.

Login Sign up