27 May 2020 by James Langley

Recycling returning to normal, survey shows

The number of local authorities reporting their recycling collections to be operating as normal has risen for the third consecutive week, with 81% of councils now running a normal service.

The findings come as a result of the latest weekly survey of local authorities, conducted by the Association of Directors of Environment, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), for the week commencing 16 May.

Eighty-one per cent of councils now report running a normal recycling service

The 81% figure represents a jump of 5% from the previous week. Other positives from the results relate to household waste and recycling centre (HWRC)s, where just 3% say the service is unavailable, compared with 46% the previous week.

Ian Fielding, chair of ADEPT’s waste group, said: “We are seeing many services resuming across the country, although there is some disruption as teams adapt to the new normal.

“Ninety-seven per cent of councils are now providing an HWRC service which is a really positive step.

“I would like to thank all our teams for their commitment in these challenging times.”

However, local authorities continue to experience disruption to their HWRCs. Around four in five (79%) report minor or moderate levels of disruption among HWRCs in operation.


The survey suggests many collection services are returning to normal, as shown in the table below.

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

Most (91%) local authorities say residual household waste collection services are provided normally or subject only to minimal disruption, with a similar picture for recycling (81%).

During the week commencing 18 May, garden waste provision increased to 96%, but about three quarters of councils are still experiencing some disruption.

The availability of bulky waste collections continues to improve, with 84% of councils now providing a service, while just under half (49%) of the responding councils said they were operating as normal.

Disruption to food waste collection services increased. Ninety per cent of councils reported services to be operating as normal in the week beginning 11 May, but this has fallen to only 76% just a week later.


With the exception of HWRCs, disposal services remain largely unaffected, as shown in the table below.

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

Slightly fewer than four in five (78%) material recycling facilities services used by local authorities responding to the survey are reported to be operating as normal, while 17% are reported to be operating with minor disruption.

As in previous weeks, most transfer stations (90%), mechanical biological treatment services (87%) and open windrow composting (89%) are reported to be continuing to operate without any disruption. This is largely the same as the previous week, with the exception of In Vessel Composting/ Anaerobic Digestion plants, which saw a 3% fall to 93% of facilities operating as normal.


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