Recycling services continue return to normal

Most council waste services in England continue to show signs of improvement from the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, though problems persist for food waste collections.

Only three in four (75%) of responding  local authorities reported their food waste collections to be operating as normal in the week commencing 6 July, data from the latest the latest survey of English councils by the Association of Directors of Environment, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) shows.

The survey results from ADEPT show continued improvements for most collection services

That figure has fallen since the week covered by the last survey, which was the week commencing 22 June, when 83% of collections were operating as normal.

From this week on, ADEPT’s surveys are to be published fortnightly rather than weekly.

Disposal services are all operating with minimal disruption although MRFs continue to display some levels of moderate or minor disruption for some. For the first time all councils report MBT and open windrow composting services to be operating as normal.

Ian Fielding, chair of ADEPT’s waste group, said: “The survey highlights how waste services are returning to normal or a stable level of operation.

“The rise in tonnage and impacts on the collections of commercial waste services is to be expected as people spend more time at home but it will be interesting to see how things change as the lockdown is relaxed and there is a lift across wider sectors of the economy.”


For the week commencing 6 July, 94% of local authorities reported their residual waste collections to be operating as normal, a 4% increase from the last set of results on 22 June.

Four in five (80%) of respondents reported their recycling collections were operating as normal for the week commencing 6 July, up from 79%.

(Graph: ADEPT)

The number of garden waste collections reported by local authorities to be operating as normal has risen since the publication of the last survey, with 85% now operating without disruption compared with 82% in the last survey.


ADEPT says greater levels of disruption have been reported for recycling disposal than residual services by survey respondents, and the association says this trend continued in the week commencing 6 July.

Despite disruption in the early stages of the pandemic, 85% of material recycling facilities were reported by local authorities as operating as usual, a 1% jump from the last survey.

Sixty-seven per cent of household waste recycling centres reported experiencing minor or moderate levels of disruption, an improvement of 8% since the last survey was published.

Almost all landfill, energy from waste, mechanical biological treatment, in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion and transfer station operations saw low and reducing levels of disruption in the week commencing 6 July, the survey shows.

(Graph: ADEPT)


In the week commencing 6 July 2020, 31% of local authorities reported experiencing no impact on operational staffing levels.

This figure is almost eight times greater than that reported in the week commencing 30 March, ADEPT says, and greater than in the last survey.


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