Fighting Litter Around the UK: The Impact of Coronavirus on Litter
The coronavirus has had an impact on just about every area of our lives, and litter is no exception. As more people have to stay home, they are having clear-outs to alleviate the boredom, and they are generating more waste. Councils say that this, coupled with the closure of recycling centres, has led to a huge increase in fly-tipping.
In some areas, fly-tipping has increased by as much as 300% and there have been calls for recycling centre workers to be named as essential workers so centres can reopen to help alleviate the problem.
How the Coronavirus has impacted upon litter in around the UK
In County Durham, there are fears that residents will pay unlicensed people to take away their rubbish in good faith, and they have no way of knowing where their rubbish is being taken. In many cases, it’s taken into the countryside and dumped.
Many councils are also having to repeat their advice on the safe disposal of items like tissues, cleaning cloths, gloves, and face masks, after refuse collectors in Birmingham were faced with open bags of waste with used face masks in that had been dumped next to a block of flats. Workers refused to take the rubbish and the council said that reckless people were putting the health and safety of its staff, as well as others, at risk.
Increased food waste and garden waste is also a problem, as families are eating only at home and giving their gardens a makeover. Many are also sorting out their wardrobes at long last, but clothes are being dumped outside of charity shops or just plain dumped.
As councils cut back on waste collections, people are heading to recycling centres only to find them closed. Some people are then just dumping their waste anywhere they can on their way back home.
West Oxfordshire District Council said some key recycling areas like banks outside of supermarkets were having to be cleared of rubbish every single day. A council spokesman said he understands that families might be finding it hard to deal with waste building up but urged people not to dump waste in public areas as this places an extra workload on already depleted refuse crews.
The situation in Lancashire isn’t any better. Furious councillors there say they believe that some people are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak and dumping furniture and rubbish in alleyways, thinking they won’t be caught because the council has their hands full with the current situation.
Fly-tipping is also increasing in Greater Manchester, where recycling centres have closed and waste collections have reduced. A councillor said that it’s a shame that people dump waste at a time when everyone should be pulling together.
Fly-tipping is on the increase in Scotland
And this problem isn’t just limited to England. Scotland’s beauty spots have also become a target for waste. Even though recycling centres are closed, authorities in Fife say that items like mattresses and even Christmas trees are still being dumped outside the facilities. A council spokesperson said that people will be caught and prosecuted, and urged people not to make non-essential journeys to move waste to avoid spreading the virus.
Fife council are reminding people that there are still recycling facilities open at supermarkets but asked that people use them responsibly. The council is also requesting that people only put their bins out for collection if they are more than half full, to reduce pressure on refuse teams.
The effects of the coronavirus may be felt for a long time, but we can all do our bit to help councils, the NHS, and each other by being considerate and responsible with our waste. Reduce or reuse wherever you can and protect people and the planet!