Greater Manchester to “carefully monitor” reopening of recycling centres

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has said it intends to reopen some of its household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) within the next two weeks.

According to reports by the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said it was “likely that the partial reopening will happen within the next fortnight”.

“That’s good news for those wanting to take waste away from their home and for those who have concerns about fly-tipping, which we recognise,” he said.

He said an agreement “in principle” had been struck between nine council leaders and GMCA.

The news comes as an increase fly-tipping ­– thought to be due to reduced waste services provided by councils during the COIVD-19 crisis – has resulted in calls for local recycling centres to be reopened.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is consulting with local authorities on whether this is feasible.

The Department recently issued a statement saying it was “encouraging councils to keep their HWRCs open to ensure that bulky waste can continue to be disposed of, but only if social distancing guidelines can be adhered to on site”.

The news also follows a recent survey conducted by SUEZ Recycling and Recovery which found 0 out of 128 polled council representatives said they considered a trip to the household waste and recycling centre (HWRC) “essential” under current regulations.

Opening HWRCs

Elsewhere, Wrexham Council said it had taken the decision to keep its HWRCs closed, saying it was viewed as “non-essential travel” under lockdown restrictions put in place by the government.

According to the latest local authority survey conducted by ADEPT, 92% of household waste recycling centres are closed, with the remainder “suffering high levels of disruption”.

Hampshire County Council said it is continuing to work with its waste contractor and neighbouring authorities on plans as to how HWRCs “could re-open safely, in the event that Government guidelines on non-essential journeys during the Coronavirus pandemic are amended”.

A spokesperson for Somerset Waste Partnership told “We completely understand why people want to get back to using the recycling centres. We’re as keen as anyone to see them reopen as soon as possible and our depleted crews are collecting huge amounts of extra waste and recycling every week.

“The centres are closed in Somerset, as they are across almost all of the country, in line with the national guidance against non-essential travel, which is there to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We and our partners – including Viridor which operates the centres on our behalf – are monitoring the situation closely and will make sure they are reopened as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

It also said there was no evidence that a significant increase in fly-tipping has occurred in the area since the recycling centres closed.

The latest ADEPT survey also shows the number of councils operating fly-tipping clearance collections has gone up from 61% to 66% after the Countryside Alliance reported a 300% rise in fly-tipping in some areas.

Earlier this week, resource management company, Veolia UK launched a guide, titled ‘Local Authority Guidance on the Safe reopening of HWRC Networks‘ – to help local authorities and contractors to “safely reopen” HWRCs during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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