British Glass is urging local authorities to continue the collection of household recycling, in the face of a growing threat of valuable materials being lost to landfill, as councils across the UK halt collections during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has been reported in recent days that a number of local authorities are reducing their waste and recycling services, including recycling collections and closures of recycling sites during the coronavirus pandemic, due to staff shortages.
With the glass packaging industry producing a product that is endlessly recyclable, and often relying heavily on recycled glass (cullet) being reused in the manufacturing process to produce new glass containers, a fall in recycling will likely drive up the demand for carbon-intensive raw materials.
The Government has named the waste sector and food and drink packaging manufacturers as ‘critical sectors’ during the pandemic, reflecting the need to continue recycling collections, as well as the capture of glass to be processed and manufactured into new packaging.
A spokesperson from the Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:
“The Government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to support councils in their response to coronavirus, and we are working with them and the waste industry to ensure that waste collections are prioritised to protect the environment and human health”.
Phillip Fenton, Lead Packaging and Recycling Advisor for British Glass, comments:
“We recognise this is an unprecedented and challenging time for everyone, from individuals and businesses to local and national government, and the priority must be staying safe and protecting each other and our NHS. The workers collecting our waste and recycling are doing an essential job and we must do all we can to keep them safe, through practising social distancing and providing protective equipment.
“But whilst we face this current crisis, we must not forget the critical value of recycling; for our manufacturers who take our used glass and remelt into new bottles and jars; for our environment, with every recycling collection diverting glass from landfill; and for the climate emergency, with recycled glass reducing the need for raw materials which are more carbon-intensive than recycled glass.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment and the efforts of every local authority and waste management company to continue recycling collections during this difficult time, to avoid valuable glass packaging being buried, burned and wasted.
"With most of the country at home, kerbside collections are more important than ever. We have seen a number of local authorities such as Belfast and Wycombe halt recycling collections, but recognising the vital role of recycling, these collections have now been restarted and we hope other councils will follow their lead."