Eight in 10 English councils have reported a massive rise in the volume of paper, cardboard, plastic and glass being collected since the national lockdown began. As a result, council costs are soaring.
According to the British Local Government Association (LGA), half of councils said they were collecting up to 20 per cent more material for recycling than normal, with a third dealing with 50 per cent more and some noting a 100 per cent rise – on a par with levels usually experienced at Christmas.
The surge in the amount of household waste and recycling to collect has increased costs to councils, alongside extra cleaning of vehicles, staff shortages due to Covid-19, and disruption caused by more cars parked on roads.
The LGA has made a statement warning that councils will face a funding gap of more than £5bn ($9.23bn) in 2024 to maintain services at current levels. It’s likely that this figure could double amid the ongoing economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
LGA environment spokesman David Renard has told the UK media that, “Councils have kept waste and recycling services running during the Covid-19 outbreak, working hard to keep staff safe and deal with high volumes of household waste normally only seen at Christmas. This has led to additional cost pressures, which must be met in full for councils to be able to maintain services and cope with the increase.”
Gateshead Council is feeling the pressure, with total tonnage of recycling collected between April and July this year increase by 23 per cent compared with last year, with more cardboard being recycled than ever before – up 250 per cent.
In Devon, recycling rates rose 12 per cent between April and June of this year, with 1,000 tonnes more glass bottles and jars and 1,300 tonnes more card collected than during the same period in 2019. This is despite Devon already having one of the highest recycling rates in the country, at 56 per cent.