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Environment Minister Poots hits out at mounds of rubbish households throwing out during coronavirus crisis

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Environment Minister Edwin Poots has urged people to help protect key workers like those collecting and emptying our bins during the Covid-19 crisis. 
Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots has urged people to help protect key workers like those collecting and emptying our bins during the Covid-19 crisis. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots has urged people to help protect key workers like those collecting and emptying our bins during the Covid-19 crisis. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

A Minister has hit out over the mounds of rubbish households are throwing out during the crisis.

Refuse teams have had to tackle higher levels of packed bins, partly as a result of panic buying.

Bin lorry workers say they have encountered the same level of rubbish they would after Christmas.

Much of it is food left uncooked, in some cases untouched before its use-by date.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots said the increased levels of rubbish were also the result of people and families using their enforced time at home during lockdown to spring clean, despite the official advice recommending against such a move.

Local spring clean teams have been advised to delay until at least the end of April and the Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September.

Mr Poots said: "There was advice saying people were not supposed to spring clean, but people don't listen. People need to exercise common sense."

Edwin Poots

The Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister confirmed that panic buying - when many supermarkets saw temporarily empty shelves and there were significant shortages of items including hand sanitiser - had been one factor in the increased bin usage.

"(There has been) a lot of people spring cleaning, less eating out and an element of panic buying," he told Sunday Life.

The DUP MLA intervened to remind Belfast City Council of its legal obligations after it was reported that only black waste bins would be collected.

But the council later said: "We want to stress that, at this time, it is still not possible to deliver a full waste collection service.

"We will try to collect brown bins from as many homes as operationally possible in the coming days.

"We continue to review our services delivery daily and whilst we are currently focusing our resources on collecting black bins, we are asking residents who have a brown bin to present it for collection on their usual collection day."

Mid and East Antrim and Mid-Ulster were among the councils that admitted they were experiencing and anticipating increases in refuse levels.

A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim said: "We have seen an increase in the volumes of waste being generated."

Mid-Ulster is also expecting a rise in the amount of household waste following the closure of its recycling centres.

But a spokesman said: "We must commend residents for their recycling efforts and reducing waste streams where they can.

"We all need to work together to ensure that waste collection staff are supported in delivering this essential service."

A refuse collection official who did not wish to be named told this newspaper that crews had come across refuse of "post-Christmas proportions" in some areas.

"These are things which families and people living on their own could have used, or they could have been given to food banks for distribution. Instead it is just wasted. Some people had too much. Others went without," they said.

Belfast Telegraph