The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee’s (LARAC) January member survey showed Omicron absence rates were pushed to a ‘never before seen’ average of 4.87%’.
Since September last year, during the height of the HGV drivers shortage, LARAC has undertaken a monthly survey of the 300+ local authority members it represents to use their experiences to monitor disruptions to the frontline and supporting infrastructure across the UK.
Over this timeframe different aspects of services have suffered what it calls ‘disruption at different rates’.
With national media reporting wide-spread instances of waste collection service disruption as a result of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, LARAC sought to test whether this was a nationwide problem in its January survey.
Following analysis of the latest findings, the impact of Omicron on frontline waste and recycling services and supporting treatment and disposal infrastructure shows absence rates for confirmed or suspected Covid cases jumped to a ‘never before seen’ average of 4.87%.
“Well above what we have seen since September,” LARAC says.
LARAC applauds the efforts of colleagues in our member councils across the UK and will work tirelessly to support them with good data and information sharing to help them with the daily challenges they face
It says frontline collections had been improving but recycling and mixed food/garden waste are starting to once again show ‘deterioration’.
However, LARAC members report a reducing number of HGV driver and general vacancies, LARAC says.
John Coates, LARAC Interim CEO, comments “The information provided by our member councils provides the clearest picture of how frontline waste and recycling services are being affected by Covid and other pressures such as driver shortages and increased tonnages over the festive period.
“This mirrors reports in the national media and the experience of residents in our communities. Christmas is always a challenging time for councils with increased sickness due to the annual flu bug and increased tonnages of waste and recycling to collect.
“Add in the Omicron variant and this year has been extremely challenging but local council staff and their contractors continue to do their best against all the odds to maintain collections and keep treatment infrastructure operating.
“LARAC applauds the efforts of colleagues in our member councils across the UK and will work tirelessly to support them with good data and information sharing to help them with the daily challenges they face.”