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Half of UK waste firms challenged during COVID

As Australia celebrates the opening of State borders this week, a survey reveals that more than half of waste businesses in the UK have found their level of work lower than in 2019 after the impact of the pandemic.

That comes from a survey conducted for Defra by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), which drew responses from 139 firms. Defra said the results were not an official statistics release. The CIWM is the leading membership organisation for professionals in the sustainability, resources and waste management sector, representing and supporting over 5,000 individuals across the UK and overseas.

Asked about their volume of business compared with the same period in 2019, there were 53 per cent of firms working at a lower level, with 5 per cent saying work was more than 60 per cent down.

There were 19 per cent of respondents who had seen their work increase by a fifth and a further 7 per cent had seen even greater increases, while 23 per cent reported no change.

Dry recyclable material collected increased by up to a fifth according to 39 per cent of answers, while 44 per cent reported decreases and 18 per cent no change. Just 4 per cent found an increase in excess of 20 per cent. Food waste followed a similar pattern.

Residual waste though showed a sharp rise with 45 per cent of respondents seeing an increase of up to a fifth and 8% even higher rates, while 32% saw decreases and 16% no change.

Very few respondents had staff on furlough, with 60 per cent saying none were and 19 per cent that up to only 5 per cent were on this scheme.

Just over half of firms has up to 5 per cent of staff self-isolating – at 51 per cent – but 37 per cent had none.