Pandemic Causes UK Recycling To Go Straight To Landfill

With the closure of many UK household waste recycling centres and an increase in home clearances and DIY projects, there has been a reported 300 per cent surge in fly-tipping in rural areas.

Researchers from Southampton and Portsmouth Universities analyzed how the virus is impacting the UK’s waste collection systems, reports Environment Journal.

The research indicated that almost half of all the local authority recycling services in the country have stopped or reduced since the lockdown measures were introduced, and unless the public is willing to store their recyclable waste at home, it will inevitably end up in landfill or be incinerated.

The lockdown also affected charity shops, closing off another channel through which unwanted goods can be reused by others.

£1.9bn worth of groceries that were panic-bought at the beginning of the crisis has ended up adding to food waste levels that will have a significant impact on the environment, as well as food waste from disrupted supply chains and import restrictions increasing levels of food loss.

Besides, the increase in home deliveries is leading to a shortage of cardboard, as many households are unable to recycle.

Professor Ian Williams, of the School of Engineering at the University of Southampton, said: “This pandemic has been a wake-up call to governments and the waste sector to ensure that supply chains and markets for recyclates are diverse and resilient.

“Our current waste management system will need to evolve to be resilient to the impacts of these rare, extreme, global events to create a successful circular economy.”

Councillor David Renard, the environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Despite the inevitable impact of coronavirus, almost all councils are continuing to collect household waste and recycling normally or with only minor disruption, along with fly-tip clearance operations which have increased.

“Councils appreciate residents may have larger amounts of rubbish building up and they will continue to work hard to keep waste and recycling services working as effectively as possible.”

The research comes as local councils begin preparations to reopen household recycling centres.

If you need a domestic waste clearance service in London, get in touch today.

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