25 March 2020 by Joshua Doherty

Sector issues joint COVID-19 message to public

Britain’s biggest private recycling and waste management companies, along with industry and local government bodies, have jointly issued a message to the public urging people to follow government advice about how those unwell in self-isolation should manage their household rubbish.

Some of the companies and associations behind the statement

Among others, the statement — which can be seen in full below —was compiled by WRAP, LARAC, the ESA, NAWDO and the CIWM.

While emphasising that bins will continue to be collected throughout the Coronavirus crisis, the statement also warns that some non-essential services might be affected in coming weeks in the event of staff shortages.

The full statement is as follows:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing our daily lives and causing significant disruption. This looks set to continue for some time, but this disruption is absolutely necessary if, together, we are to limit the spread and impact of this disease.

“We wanted to take the opportunity to reassure everyone that, whatever else might happen, we’re working hard to ensure that your bins are still collected in the coming weeks and months. But, we need your help to do this.

“There are around twenty-seven million households in the United Kingdom and, collectively, they produce the equivalent of a tonne of rubbish each, every year. Collecting, sorting, and processing the waste from this many households is a huge daily challenge and requires a workforce of more than 107,000 people, who have been identified by Government as key workers, providing support during this crisis.

“For the time being, many household recycling and waste collections are operating normally and everyone should continue to reduce, re-use and recycle as much of their waste as possible. Your local council is ultimately responsible for recycling and waste services, so please follow all of the guidance they provide so that we can keep these vital services moving efficiently.

“Like other critical industries, staff shortages may interfere with recycling and waste services, so we are doing all we can to mitigate this risk”

Industry statement

“Following Government advice, to protect workers and combat the spread of infection, anyone who feels ill at home (whether diagnosed with COVID-19 or not) should place all their waste in the general rubbish bin, and should double-bag it, making sure the bags are securely tied. They should then wait at least 72 hours before placing it out for collection. For now, this material should not be put in your recycling.

“Like other critical industries, staff shortages may interfere with recycling and waste services, so we are doing all we can to mitigate this risk. To ensure we can continue to collect general rubbish, which must be prioritised for hygiene reasons, it might be necessary to temporarily change or suspend some non-essential collection services like garden and bulky waste. Any disruption to recycling services will be a last resort and, if this is unavoidable, we must not allow it to break our national recycling habit in the long term.

“Some Household Waste Recycling Centres will be temporarily closed to the general public and, unless essential, people should not be leaving their homes to visit these sites. It is possible that some street cleaning and litter removal services may also need to be temporarily suspended to prioritise household collections.

“We are grateful for your support at this time of unprecedented challenge and urge you to stay safe, protect yourself and protect others.”

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