Led by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), local authority network groups have combined forces to understand the status of waste services across England, and how they have been affected so far by Covid-19.
The survey will be repeated at least weekly to track any changes, but the initial findings are that most councils are continuing to deliver core recycling and residual waste services, largely unaffected.
After receiving responses from over 200 councils in only 2 days, the emerging picture is mainly positive. Despite running at an average of over 20% down on staff numbers, all but a few councils are still managing providing collection services for domestic residual waste as normal, and over 90% of responding councils are maintaining their recycling services as normal or with only minor disruption. Encouragingly, no councils report any significant disruption to waste disposal and treatment services such as energy from waste incineration and landfill.
However, in order to maintain these levels of service, about a third of councils have temporarily suspended collections of garden waste, and about two thirds have suspended bulky waste collections. Almost all council have closed household waste recycling centres in order to protect staff and customers and to help enforce social distancing.
The waste sector is working closely together to monitor and maintain waste services. Led by ADEPT, networks including the Local Authority Recycling Advisory committee (LARAC), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO) have co-designed the short survey specifically to collect data on the changing picture for waste.
Speaking on behalf of these key networks Ian Fielding, Chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group said: “I would like to thank all those who took time to respond and ask them to keep providing us with weekly updates. Their input is invaluable in enabling us to keep up with the rapidly changing developments across the country.
“So far, the picture is good. Although there has been some disruption but it seems to be business as usual for most councils on core services like residual waste and recycling collections.
“I’d like to pay tribute to our frontline workers who are providing an essential service. It is because of them and our officers that we are continuing to provide collections for our communities.
In an earlier joint statement, the networks stressed the importance protecting frontline staff by double bagging waste to reduce the spread of infection. Local authorities are ensuring that their workforce follows Public Health England guidance.
The survey has been designed to take one minute to complete and local authorities will continue to receive emails providing details of how to access the survey and the information to be captured.
The results of the first survey are available on the ADEPT website: https://www.adeptnet.org.uk/documents/covid-19-waste-survey-results-wc-30-march-2020