4 November 2020 by Joshua Doherty

Waste services ‘well prepared’ for lockdown

Waste services in England will not see the same levels of disruption during the second lockdown as were seen in the first, industry leaders have said. 

This is because many are “better prepared” after facing significant disruption in the spring, but concerns remain over staff which need to self-isolate. 

In the height of the first lockdown, weekly surveys carried out by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) found more than a quarter of  dry recycling  and a third of residual waste collection services faced disruption.  

The main disruption was seen for household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) and other recycling services such as garden waste, while MRFs were also hit by staff shortages.  

The last survey results for the week commencing September show that 10% of residual waste and 23% of dry recycling services provided by councils in England were reporting minor disruption.  


Ian Fielding, chair of the ADEPT Waste Group, said that while there were “no plans to restart the surveys at this point”, ADEPT continues to “monitor the situation closely with Defra and our other waste sector partners”.

“Although there are no plans to restart the surveys at this point, we continue to monitor the situation closely”

Ian Fielding, ADEPT

In a statement to letsrecycle.com, Mr Fielding said: Local authorities are well prepared and if the local situation requires, will put into place their contingency plans to prioritise core household waste and domestic recycling collection services established during the first lockdown. 

“The safety of our customers and employees is paramount, so we would ask the public to be patient with any minor disruption to services in their areas and stay safe at this difficult time.” 

Recycling centres 

Defra confirmed yesterday afternoon (3 November) that councils “should keep HWRCs open” in line with guidance it issued earlier this month (see letsrecycle.com story).

Lee Marshall, chief executive of LARAC

Lee Marshall, chief executive of LARAC, told letsrecycle.com that HWRCs were already operating in a Covid-secure way, and added that councils have systems in place across the board to better cope with disruption. 

“Compared to the first lockdown in March, local authorities already have all their systems and mitigation in place to keep waste services running. They have been operating socially distanced services for months now and have contingency plans in place if staff absence levels increase,” he said.  

Mr Marshall added: “We do not anticipate collection services being disrupted but there could be instances in specific areas if there is a high level of staff absence”.  


On behalf of the waste management industry, the Environmental Services Association’s executive director Jacob Hayler told letsrecycle.com the sector had “demonstrated that it could keep essential services running” during the first lockdown, and had learned from the experience.

Defra has said recycling centres in England ‘should remain open’

He said: “Having learned from this experience, our sector now has the protocols and risk-mitigation strategies in place to continue to deliver these services safely as we enter a second national lockdown. However, we will continue to liaise closely with our members, and government, to anticipate and address any issues that arise once the restrictions on movement come into force later this week.” 




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