The combination of an increase in domestic waste and a decline in proper disposal facilities and staff has left local councils in a crisis: how to deal with excess rubbish.
How waste build-up has occurred
Reports have shown that almost half of all recycling services in the United Kingdom have shut down. With recycling units down and charity shops closed, the number of excess materials with no place to go has increased dramatically. The waste facilities that have stayed open are not nearly as efficient with a 40 percent decrease in staff due to isolation and illness as found in a survey conducted by ADEPT. This lack of proper waste disposal combined with a 20 to 50 percent increase in normal household waste due to food hoarding, DIY projects, and cardboard packaging from an increase in home deliveries, has left counties struggling to find a solution for the excess rubbish.
Rubbish burning helps councils dispose of waste
Some councils have decided to deal with this issue by temporarily incinerating what would have been recycled material. The councils of St Helens, Inverclyde, and Cardiff confirmed they will incinerate their waste until the recycling facilities are in a position to reopen. The Cardiff council has even asked its residents to continue rinsing out and sorting their recyclables as usual even though they will be burned. While it may seem like a quick and easy fix, incinerating recyclables is a controversial decision due to its possibly detrimental impact on the environment. The Harrow council recycling center even asked its citizens not to burn their rubbish as the smoke causes air pollution and potential health risks.
Fly-tipping forces some waste disposals to reopen
Since the lockdown began, fly-tipping in the UK has increased by 300 percent due to a lack of locations to legally bin rubbish. Alan Lewis, the UUP councillor for the Mourne, Newry, and Down District has spoken out about fly-tippers urging them to educate themselves as several illegal waste dumping incidents occurred in this area. The Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has gone so far as to reopen their recycling centers as fly-tipping doubled in the district. While this move was controversial, some other councils are not far behind. Mark Baxter, DUP group leader on the Banbridge, Armagh, and Craigavon Borough Council stated that his party and the SDLP were both in favor of reopening their recycling facilities.