When could Lancashire's temporarily closed tips reopen?
Lancashire County Council is considering how it can rearrange its household waste recycling centres to allow them to offer a “limited service” – but probably not until the current lockdown measures are lifted.
All 16 of the authority’s tips were closed last month – most within 24 hours of movement restrictions coming into effect – because it was deemed impossible to maintain effective social distancing at the sites.
But the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has now said it is encouraging councils to keep such facilities open to ensure bulky waste can continue to be disposed of – providing social distancing can be achieved.
Neighbouring Wigan Council has today reopened its recycling centres and it is understood DEFRA is expected to consult local authorities next week on reopening them in other areas.
Steve Scott, head of waste management for Lancashire County Council, said that the county’s waste facilities were closed “in line with government advice” in order to keep the public and staff safe.
“We’re sorry for any inconvenience due to the temporary withdrawal of the service, however closing the sites has had the benefit of allowing us to redirect our staff to support our partner councils in Lancashire to maintain vital household waste collections and the council’s waste company who processes a lot of the waste collected.
“We are currently considering options for how we may be able to reconfigure the way our sites operate to offer a limited service for people once the current lockdown is lifted, along with measures which are likely to be needed to manage demand whenever the sites reopen. We are also anticipating further guidance from DEFRA and will consider this as soon as it becomes available.
“In the meantime, we would ask people to make use of their household waste collections, keep hold of anything which they would usually need to bring to a recycling centre, and consider composting and other ways to minimise the amount of waste they produce.”
Meanwhile, John Scanlon – chief executive of waste operator SUEZ – said there is not currently a need for a large-scale reopening of recycling centres, because kerbside rubbish collections are continuing.
He added that if there was a move to open a limited number of strategically-placed centres to ease pressure on household collections, there would have to be limits on vehicles and people coming into the sites, with capacity halved to maintain social distancing.
Mr. Scanlon suggested that they could be set up to accept only one or two critical materials such as garden waste, wood or general household waste – and access could be restricted by allocating households in different postcodes specific days to use their local dump.
He added: “If any do reopen, we urge the public that a trip to their local recycling centre under a restricted service should remain something that must be only strictly necessary and cannot be used as a diversionary trip or because people feel unable to responsibly store toys, clothes or electrical goods that they have decided to throw away as part of a lockdown-induced spring clean at home.
“Non-essential clear-outs and associated trips to wasterecycling centres must remain just that for now and be avoided.
"With waste recycling centres and charity shops closed and bring banks full, it is time for people to think before they discard, and store or re-use items at home.”
Charities and local councils have warned people against bringing their cleared out clothes and other items to shops and local bring centres, because it cannot be dealt with and ends up as fly-tipping.