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Press releases

Waste industry thanks British public for Covid-19 response

Environmental Services Association

3 min read

Thank you for helping us maintain your recycling and waste services

Nearly two months have passed since the United Kingdom introduced restrictions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. With these vital measures came unprecedented challenges for a range of sectors which we all rely upon every day, including the recycling and waste management sector.

Thanks to the hard work of tens of thousands of people employed in our industry, we are proud to say that household refuse collections have been maintained across the UK so far and only a small number of recycling services have been affected.

Members of the public have recognised the dedication of the many people who made this possible and have shown their thanks through thousands of wonderful letters, notes and pictures for crews across the country over the past few weeks. We would like to take this opportunity to reciprocate and thank the British public for their understanding, and for playing their part by continuing to recycle and dispose of their waste responsibly.

Where possible, suspended services like bulky and garden waste collections are starting to resume and some local Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are beginning to reopen, but we must ensure this is done safely. 

HWRCs should only be used to dispose of waste that cannot be collected at the kerbside and we urge members of the public to continue to store waste at home, where they can, to reduce pressures on these services. Before visiting, we also suggest that residents check with their local council for any temporary restrictions and follow all instructions once on site to ensure the safety of staff and other users.

The use of some Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), such as face coverings and gloves, may remain part of daily life for a little while. Any disposable PPE used outside a medical setting should please be discarded with the general rubbish and not placed in the recycling. These items are not recyclable and it is impossible to tell whether they are infected or not once they appear at recycling facilities – causing unnecessary alarm.

Anyone self-isolating at home with confirmed or suspected COVID 19 should continue to place all their personal waste materials in the general rubbish, 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. This is to protect collection crews and prevent the spread of infection.

We will continue to do all we can to maintain as many services as possible going forward. In the meantime, we urge everyone to continue to reduce, re-use and recycle all they can, and to stay alert, control the virus and save lives.

Thank you.

Responding to the statement, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Jacob Hayler, said:

“The essential work carried out by thousands of recycling and waste workers each day often goes unnoticed.

"Although it may have taken a crisis for them to receive the recognition they deserve, crews across the country have been overwhelmed by an outpouring of public support over the past two months.

"We would like to thank the public for helping to keep these services running by being responsible with their waste and urge everyone to continue in this way as suspended services begin to resume. This will help keep services, particularly household waste recycling centres, running safely.”

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Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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