Many councils in recent weeks have taken the decision to suspend garden waste collections in order to prioritise other rounds because of driver shortages and self-isolation requirements.
This has led to some organics recyclers reporting their tonnages to have dropped by up to 50%, but confidence remains that this will be recovered once collections are restarted.
Head of organics and natural capital at the REA, Jenny Grant, said that the organisation is “well aware” of the staff shortage, and the impact it is having on its members, adding that it remains concerned how this will impact tonnages for composters.
Ms Grant told letsrecycle.com: “We know there is a real struggle to get drivers for commercial food waste collections, and we have highlighted these challenges to the government.
“We are also aware that in addition to the driver shortage, the self-isolation requirements are causing some local authorities to struggle to fulfil all their usual collections. Whilst we understand the priority collection guidance, we are obviously concerned about what the impact will be on the processing side, particularly for garden waste composters. It is a bit too soon to see any impact on tonnages at the moment, but we are hopeful that it will be a short term issue.”
Despite the challenge however, garden waste composters said they remain well versed in tackling the issue following a prolonged suspension of collections last year down to the pandemic.
One recycler in the North added that even though tonnages are half as much as usual, it is expected to balance out once collections resume.
The composter explained that for every 1000 tonnes not received, it will receive around 3000 back.
The summer is typically a busy time of year for organics recyclers; however tonnages fluctuate depending on weather conditions.
A string of councils across the country have warned that collection services will be disrupted in the coming weeks.
Exeter city council is the latest to follow suit in suspending garden waste collections, announcing that it will be stopping the service until 16 August.
While some councils are hopeful they can resume the service within a couple of weeks, other waste authorities such as the Somerset Waste Partnership and Bristol Waste, have stopped it for a prolonged period of 6 to 10 weeks.
Many local authorities have said that garden waste subscribers will automatically have their subscriptions extended, in recognition of the disruption at a busy time of year.
Staff shortages have been said to be down to impacts from Brexit and the pandemic, mixed with the so called ‘pingdemic’, with large numbers of current workers in self isolation.