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District councils warn about ‘wave of waste’ from lockdown households

Residents are being urged to help local authorities deal with extra waste as they face bin staff shortages.

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District councils are warning of a ‘wave of waste’ from households in the coming weeks (Steve Parsons/PA)

District councils are warning of a ‘wave of waste’ from households in the coming weeks (Steve Parsons/PA)

District councils are warning of a ‘wave of waste’ from households in the coming weeks (Steve Parsons/PA)

A “wave of waste” will emerge from households in lockdown in the coming weeks, district councils have warned.

The District Councils’ Network (DCN) is urging people to think twice about how much waste is being put out – and not to burn it on bonfires.

Families are generating more waste and recycling while they obey Government orders to stay at home to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.

In some cases extra waste is coming from households which have stocked up on food and other goods they need, the DCN says.

At the same time many town halls have had to reduce some rubbish and recycling collections, such as garden waste, as staff need to self-isolate or to recover from illness, and have closed recycling centres or dumps.

The network, which represents 191 district councils in England, wants residents to work with their local authority to best manage the perfect storm of swelling amounts of waste and challenges in collecting it.

Where possible we would ask residents to think twice about how much waste is put outDan Humphreys, District Councils' Network

While many people will be using the current period as an opportunity to spring clean their home or do gardening, the DCN is asking residents to consider how they can store waste or have it safely collected at the moment.

District councils are asking residents to:

– Contact your council to see if they are still operating paid for bulky waste collection. Private companies offer this as well but you must check they are properly registered for handling waste by the Environment Agency;

– Try and compost any garden waste at home;

– Cut down cardboard boxes so they can be put into the appropriate recycling bin – this makes life much easier for waste collection staff;

– Store any excess waste from DIY projects, spring cleans or garden waste at home until it can be disposed of safely and legally.

The DCN is also warning against burning rubbish, especially hazardous waste, on bonfires, which can contribute to air pollution.

The network’s Dan Humphreys said: “These are challenging times for everyone in the country right now, and all of our public services are being overstretched as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“Alongside many other frontline services, the efforts of our waste collection staff should be applauded, as they are playing a key role in helping to keep the country running during this difficult period.

“Make no mistake, councils and their contractors have plans in place to try and ensure that everyone’s bins are collected.

“But we would ask the public to play their part, too. Where possible we would ask residents to think twice about how much waste is put out – such a small step could make a huge difference.

“With millions safely staying at home, many producing more waste than normal, and a risk that our waste collection workforce suffers staff shortages, we have to be careful and prepared to manage a potential wave of waste.”

David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Some councils have seen a recent increase in the number of complaints about the burning of rubbish in gardens and backyards, which is obviously causing concern and has led to an increasing demand on fire services, putting lives at risk.

“While some household waste and recycling centres have temporarily closed, and some kerbside collections have been suspended or reduced in frequency in some areas, there is no need to burn waste.

“Many council waste collection services are running as normal.”

He said the ability for people stuck at home to use gardens for fresh air and to be able to vent their homes is very important.

The LGA urges people not to burn garden waste, as composting or recycling it is better for the environment, and warns burning household waste is an offence and liable to prosecution.

PA