Waste collection staff are key workers too – and they need our help!
Local authorities across the UK are working hard to provide the best possible service during the COVID-19 crisis. Waste and recycling crews are designated key workers, and they are doing a fantastic job.
But with most of us now staying at home, more household waste is bound to put pressure on recycling and waste services.
Peter Maddox, Director of WRAP, said:
“Local authority waste collectors have been designated as key workers – and quite rightly. They perform an essential service that requires hard work, often in challenging conditions – and none more so than now. During the COVID-19 crisis they need our support and cooperation more than ever, so they can continue to do their jobs safely. The situation is challenging and can change quickly – so It’s up to us all to help.”
We can do this by:
- Checking our local council’s website regularly for updates on types and frequencies of recycling and waste collections where we live – including what can and can’t be recycled;
- Not taking any waste and recycling to the local Household Waste Recycling Centre, or clothes and other items to charity shops or clothes banks. The majority of these are now closed. Items should not be left on charity shop doorsteps;
- Re-using or finding another use for things we might otherwise throw away – for instance, using plastic tubs with lids to store leftovers in the freezer, or cutting up old sheets and towels to use as dusters and cleaning cloths;
- Minimising the amount of rubbish, recycling and food waste we produce. Every bit we can reduce will make a real difference to maintaining a good service for everyone. Find tips for reducing food waste here: lovefoodhatewaste.com;
- If you’re self-isolating and feeling ill, putting any potentially infected items like used tissues or cleaning cloths into separate plastic bags and double bagging them. These bags should be kept aside for at least 72 hours (3 days) before they go into your external bin. For more information, see the Public Health Wales website: phw.nhs.wales/coronavirus;
- Avoiding doing big clear-outs while at home, which will create more rubbish and recycling for council crews to collect. We need to hold onto large items such as furniture, mattresses etc. until the outbreak has subsided and services return to normal;
- Not burning waste at home. This creates air pollution that could harm people nearby who may already have breathing difficulties due to COVID-19. There is also the danger that fires could get out of control; fire services around the country are reporting an increase in callouts due to garden fires;
- Continuing to wash our hands regularly, maintaining good hygiene when handling our rubbish and recycling and keeping at least two metres from workers when they are collecting.
When putting out bins we should:
- Put bins out the evening before collection is scheduled.
- Clean bin handles with disinfectant before and after collection.
- Put wipes, cloths, gloves etc. used for cleaning into the general waste.
If your council can’t collect your recycling:
- We need to store recyclable items safely until they can be collected. Paper and card must be kept dry and away from heaters, ovens and naked flames so that it does not catch fire. Fold paper, flatten boxes and crush plastic bottles and other containers so that they take up less room.
Our local authorities’ ability to maintain their usual collections may change throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Keep checking your council website to find out what will be collected, and please continue to recycle in the meantime.