Waste Workers are Key Workers Too
Residents urged to spare a thought for their waste and recycling crews as the number of flytipping incidents spikes across the country
While it may not be as obvious, it’s important to remember that workers in the waste and recycling sector are providing essential services too. Across the UK and London, crews are working tirelessly around the clock to collect and treat people’s waste and recycling. From the early hours of the morning until late at night, these workers are putting themselves at risk by handling potentially contaminated waste during COVID-19.
From everyone here at WLWA, we want to say a massive thank you to all the amazing people in the waste industry! From bin collection crews to street cleaners, depot workers to office staff and everyone else behind the scenes, who make sure our recycling and rubbish services are running as smoothly as possible in these testing times.
During the pandemic, the number of flytipping incidents is starting to increase. It comes at a critical time as services are already running at reduced capacity due to COVID-related absences – and the volume of household waste has dramatically increased due to stay-at-home measures.
Many councils have had to make the difficult decision to close Household Reuse and Recycling Centres (HRRCs) in a bid to keep staff and members of the public safe, while focussing on kerbside collections only.
With most people staying home, and many deciding to have clearouts, we’ve seen a massive spike in flytipping. Fortunately it is just a small minority responsible for most of these incidents – but we are urging everyone to ease the pressure on our key workers by recycling as much as possible and holding onto clearout items until the government lifts the lockdown measures.
Flytipping is not a victimless crime – large and bulky items could block vital emergency services, while every taxpayer in that local authority must foot the bill. When hazardous waste (including fridges, TVs and batteries) is dumped, hazardous waste and chemicals can leach into the soil, affecting local wildlife and potentially even humans if it reaches a groundwater supply.
You can help your local key waste and recycling workers by ensuring any potentially contaminated waste – especially tissues and wet wipes – are double bagged and put into your black bin waste. Tissues, wet wipes, nappies and period products CANNOT be recycled – please protect our crews and dispose of them responsibly.