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Waste and recycling services are critical public services which have evolved fundamentally to protect human health, to service our economy, and to reduce environmental impacts. In doing so, they prevent any build-up of waste that could be harmful to local amenity and public health; safeguard important flows of material; and, support our commitment as a nation to recycle as much of our unavoidable waste as possible and take action on the climate emergency.

The Welsh Government has already published guidance on the prioritisation of waste and recycling collection services to support local authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance reflected the resilience of many of the local authorities to continue with much of their kerb side waste collection services, despite the challenging circumstances.

As we begin to look towards recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, it is important to plan for the coordinated reopening of HWRCs, in a safe and structured way. This non-statutory guidance has therefore been developed in partnership with local authorities in order to assist councils and the wider waste sector to consider the key issues and take the steps needed in order to re-open HWRCs safely.

Key Principles

As also set out in the parallel guidance on the prioritisation of waste and recycling collection services, a set of key principles have been developed in conjunction with stakeholders to guide decision making in the context of COVID-19. The following therefore provide a basis for planning and decision making in addition to the principles and duties enshrined in legislation:

  • Protection of human health (including the workforce collecting and processing waste material) and the environment from the adverse consequences of waste not managed effectively - in line with the scientific assessment of the risks and health advice on the approaches that support the controlling of the spread of COVID-19.
  • Social equity – ensuring that proper account is taken of those needing support and those householders with limited storage capacity at their dwellings.
  • Waste hierarchy – in priority order: reduce, reuse, recycle, energy recovery, landfill, unless over-ridden by the need to protect human health and the environment.
  • Resilience – ensure a diverse range of facilities continue to operate, to provide resilience if key services are impacted or close down.
  • Preservation where possible of the flow of material to businesses that use recyclate and waste to derive renewable energy (e.g. anaerobic digestion and biomass).

Restrictions on movement and gatherings during the emergency period

As sectors of the economy begin to re-start, demand for the restoration of key services such as HWRCs will grow as will the need for the material they provide.

The majority of LAs in Wales have been able to offer a full kerbside waste and recycling collection service where the vast majority of material generated by households can be disposed of.

In planning the re-opening of HWRCs, local authorities should consider the range of services being offered and in particular, look to recommence services such as green waste and/or bulky waste collections prior to reopening HWRC’s to alleviate some of the potential demand.

For anyone undertaking a journey outside their home to a HWRC, they must comply with the current guidance and advice to the public must be clear that HWRCs are re-opening on a restricted basis in order to cater for the circumstances where certain materials cannot be disposed of at the kerbside.

Managing Social Distancing within the HWRC

In line with the regulations in Wales, the requirement to take all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing applies to the operation and use of a HWRC site. As such, there is an obligation on the local authority and those responsible for the work to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres on site.

This also applies to members of the public using the site and contractors removing material. Consideration should therefore be given to the use of waste skips and bunkers, and the queuing system inside and outside the site.

Procedures should also be put in place to protect staff should members of the public refuse to observe social distancing or become aggressive or abusive.

Risk Mitigation

Planning the re-opening of HWRCs will need to be informed by a robust risk assessment (RA) for each site, which demonstrates how operations will comply with current regulations and guidance. As there are many different HWRCs across Wales with different capacity, site constraints and other issues, this will need to be undertaken on a site specific basis and some sites may not be able to open initially.

The HWRC site’s current RA should therefore be updated to ensure compliance with current COVID-19 restrictions and reviewed to determine if that specific site can reopen and on what basis. The range of issues to be considered includes:

  • Clear communications on websites and through other means to ensure the public fully understand the service that is available locally. Key messages are set out in annex 1, which will be reinforced by national communications.
  • engagement with the police on planning for traffic management;
  • whether a booking or other system needs to be put in place to manage likely demand and if so, consideration should be given to booking by phone as well as on-line;
  • the staffing requirements needed to allow effective site management, including queue management;
  • instigating appropriate cleaning regimes to ensure the safety of the public and operatives;
  • reviewing the use of appropriate PPE in light of the latest guidance.
  • reviewing site layout and use and implement markings/physical measures as appropriate to ensure social distancing can be observed;
  • limiting the number of vehicles on site at any one time to enforce social distancing, this is likely to greatly reduce site throughput;
  • ensuring clear signage to set out expected behaviour on site such as ensuring only one person leaves the vehicle and that operatives do not aid in the carrying of materials;
  • consideration of appropriate signage in the queuing area to advise on waiting time, site restrictions on materials and type of vehicle to reduce conflict on site;
  • clear procedures in the case of abuse towards staff and where individuals do not respect social distancing requirements;
  • arrangements for dealing with the risk of elevated numbers of residents from neighbouring Local Authorities where HWRC’s may be reopening to a slightly different timescale,

As the impact of COVID-19 will vary in different parts of Wales and as operational aspects such as the staffing, availability of contractors and suitability of the site to be adapted to social distancing restrictions will impact in different ways upon different sites, it is recognised that different HWRCs are likely to come back into service at different times.

It is therefore important for decisions on the opening of HWRCs to continue to be taken in a way that is fully informed by the local circumstances and the site specific risk assessment process, in line with the functional responsibility of Local Authorities. Local uthorities should ensure any changes are in line with the site’s planning and permitting conditions, engaging with NRW should any variations potentially be needed. In considering staffing issues, Local Authorities should also meaningfully engage with the relevant Unions.

Local authorities are working to plan and co-ordinate the reopening of sites on a regional basis through the County Surveyors Society (CSS) waste working group to ensure that cross border issues are fully considered and addressed.

Fundamentally, risk management should be set within the context of the recovery from COVID-19 and as such, may be subject to rapid change if a rise in new infections occurs. Local authorities should therefore continue to prioritise services, in line with the published Welsh Government guidance and have the contingency plans in place should there be the need to quickly close HWRCs to the public.

Addressing Demand

The majority of HWRCs in Wales have been closed for a number of weeks, during which time the advice to the public has been to stay home and to store any additional waste generated. This means that there is potentially a significant backlog of materials. The reintroduction of bulky waste and green waste collection prior or in conjunction with the re-opening should therefore be considered to mitigate the potential demand.

Consideration will also need to be given to traffic management planning, including how best to stagger access to sites and manage any build-up of traffic, particularly if sites are located on or near main roads. Local authorities should engage their local police force in this planning. Systems such as advanced booking, access by post code or number plate can be used to restrict demand along with consideration of the best way to actively manage the potential build-up of traffic. It is suggested that, consideration is given to the use of staff who are experienced, have been trained, or hold qualifications in traffic management and in conflict management, if the roles require this.

Finally, proactive local communications supported by national messaging to clearly communicate the nature of the service available and any site or material constraints will be key in reducing any potential issues. This should include advice on the likely waiting times involved.

Materials accepted and onward movement

In planning for the re-opening of HWRCs, local authorities should satisfy themselves that off-takers are able to collect and process materials and accommodate the likely throughput of material. If this is not yet possible, consideration should be given to the potential for storage space at the HWRCs (dependant on the site permit restrictions and any subsequent NRW advice) to safely store materials or the potential for processors to make arrangements for materials to be stored at their facility until there is sufficient demand to reopen their facility. Local Authorities should engage with their local NRW officer on these matters ahead of re-opening. Consideration should also be given to the potential for material to be supplied for re-use.

Contingency plans should be put in place to deal with the circumstances where such arrangements fail, in line with the waste hierarchy.

As detailed earlier, consideration should be given to the social distancing of the off-takers and how this will impact on opening times and traffic management.

Communication with residents

In reopening HWRCs, it is essential this is accompanied by the coordination of key messages on a national and local basis to explain the reopening process, its limitations and how people will be expected to use HWRCs, in line with the current COVID-19 regulations and guidance in place. This is particularly important in order to mitigate any potential conflict on site.

The key national messages are:

  • Do not go to your recycling centre if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 or is currently shielding. 
  • Recycle what you can from home using your kerbside collections and check if your Council is offering home collection of larger/bulky items. Please disinfect the handles of your kerbside containers and bins for the safety of those collecting.
  • You must only visit your recycling centre if you can’t safely store your waste/recycling at home. Only go if it’s essential.
  • Check with you Council before you leave if your site is open, if you need to book and what materials they are currently accepting. Only sites which can be adapted to make sure everybody is safe will be opening.
  • There are likely to be queues at recycling centres due to limits on number of people being allowed into recycling centre at any one time. Please be patient and respect the staff working at the centres.
  • If it is essential that you go to your local recycling centre, remember to observe social distancing and any other safety messaging in place.
  • You must not dispose of household waste in a way that will cause pollution or harm people’s health. This includes burning it - burning household waste may give rise to an offence, liable to prosecution
  • Fly-tipping is a crime. Leaving items on the street or in parks, woodlands and fields is fly-tipping. This is a crime and could mean a fixed penalty of up to £400, or prosecution. Even if you mean well and leave items outside charity shops, or next to full recycling bins, this is still fly-tipping.

Call to action:

  • Please check your Council’s website or social media for details of which recycling centres are open and how to access them.  You may need to book.

Shorter version:

  • Only go to your recycling centre if it is essential.
  • Do not go if anyone in your household has symptoms or is shielding from COVID-19.
  • Check your Council’s website for when your local recycling centre will open and how to access them before you leave.
  • There are likely to be queues. Please observe social distancing if you do attend recycling centre.

Local authorities will need to consider carefully the local messaging which best reflect their re-opening strategy.  Annex 1 sets out local messages which should be considered and amended to reflect local circumstances. Local authorities know which communication channels work best in their locality to effectively communicate the local messages in advance of re-opening HWRCs. In doing so, this should be coordinated with and accompanied by communications at national level.

Annex 1 – Communication – local messaging

The local messages to residents considering a journey to their local HWRC include:

  • Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, e.g. high fever; new and continuous cough, must not visit a HWRC under any circumstances.
  • Whilst adjustments to guidelines are made, it remains important that we restrict journeys to only those that are essential. Where possible continue to fully use the range of kerbside services that are available.
  • Before visiting a site it is essential that you check with the Council’s website whether your local recycling centre is open. Not all will open immediately as not all sites will be suitable and safe under social distancing rules. You might not be able to take some items of waste and materials there so please check in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Some Councils are introducing a booking system or some other way of coping with the demand such as only allowing people to go on their normal collection day. You may also be asked for ID so please check this in advance.
  • Be prepared for a long wait as the number of vehicles that are allowed on site will be greatly reduced. It may be better if you can store things until a later date.
  • Consider first using the Council’s green and/or bulky waste service if they are available. If services are suspended in your area, try to home compost or leave non-essential jobs until normal services have resumed. Please do not burn it and remember it’s illegal to fly-tip.
  • If you bring black bag waste, you may be asked to take this home and sort out any recyclable materials.
  • Strict social distancing and safety requirements such as cleaning regimes will be in place. This will greatly reduce the number of cars on site and increase waiting times. Whilst more than one person can be in the car it is essential that only one person leaves the vehicle to unload. This means that you can only take things that can be carried by one person. Staff on the site cannot help carry things under any circumstances.
  • If you do not respect social distancing or are abusive to staff you will be asked to leave and the Police may be called.

HWRC Site Signage

  • WRAP Cymru has produced and shared a series of materials with all Local authorities and these can either be used as they are or adapted by including for example the relevant branding. These are available for Local Authorities to download from the WRAP Resource Library, or by request from
Signage available
Welsh English

Sortiwch eich holl wastraff ac ailgylchu yn ôl y gwahanol ddeunyddiau cyn dod i’r safle. Diolch ichi am ein helpu i ailgylchu.

Please sort all your waste and recycling into different material types before entering the site. Thank you for helping us to recycle.

Dylech fod yn barod i brofi eich bod yn byw yn lleol, fel dangos trwydded yrru neu fil cyfleustodau.

Be prepared to show proof of residency to gain entry, such as a driving licence or utility bill.

Arhoswch yn eich car tra’r ydych yn ciwio er mwyn cadw pellter cymdeithasol, a dod allan o’ch car dim ond ar ôl cael caniatâd i wneud hynny.

Stay inside your car while queuing to maintain social distancing, and only get out when you are given permission.

Dim ond un person fydd yn cael dod allan o’ch cerbyd i ddadlwytho eich gwastraff ac ailgylchu. Ni fydd y staff yn gallu eich helpu i ddadlwytho unrhyw eitemau.

Only one person may leave your vehicle to unload your waste & recycling. Staff are unable to help you unload any items.

Dim ond un person sy’n cael mynd at bob cynhwysydd gwastraff neu sgip ar y tro.

Only one person may approach a waste container or skip at any one time.

Parchwch ein staff. Bydd unrhyw un sy’n cam-drin ein staff yn gorfod gadael y safle.

Respect our staff. Anyone being abusive to staff will be instructed to leave.

Cadwch o leiaf 2m (6 troedfedd) oddi wrth eraill er mwyn cadw pellter cymdeithasol.

Please keep a distance of at least 2m (6ft) from others, to maintain social distancing.

Dilynwch yr holl gyfarwyddiadau a roddir ichi gan ein staff ac ar yr arwyddion. Bydd unrhyw un sy’n cam-drin ein staff yn gorfod gadael y safle.

Please follow all guidance given to you by our staff and on signage. Anyone being abusive to staff will be instructed to leave the site.

Defnyddiwch y stondin glanweithdra sydd ar gael i olchi eich dwylo cyn ac ar ôl cyffwrdd eich gwastraff ac ailgylchu, os gwelwch yn dda.

Please use the sanitising stations provided to wash your hands before and after handling your waste & recycling.

Cofiwch olchi’ch dwylo’n drylwyr ar ôl ymweld â’r safle.

Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the site.

Dim ciwio tu hwnt i’r fan hon, er diogelwch ein staff a’r cyhoedd.

For the safety of our staff and the public, no queuing beyond this point.

Mae’n bosibl y bydd angen ciwio am gyfnod hir. Byddwch yn amyneddgar, os gwelwch yn dda.

There may be long queuing times. Please be patient.

Dim ond eitemau na allwch eu rhoi yn eich casgliad ymyl y ffordd y dylech eu cludo i’r safle.

Only dispose of items that you are unable to dispose of at the kerbside.

Dim ond eitemau na allwch eu storio’n ddiogel gartref neu eu rhoi allan ar gyfer casgliad ymyl y ffordd y dylech eu cludo i’r safle hwn.

Only bring items that can’t be stored safely at home or put out for kerbside collection.

Dim cerbydau ag ochrau uchel, faniau na threlars.

No high-sided vehicles, vans or trailers.

Nid yw’r deunyddiau hyn yn cael eu derbyn ar y safle hwn ar hyn o bryd:

  • gwastraff bagiau du
  • tecstilau
  • gwastraff bwyd
  • bagiau ailgylchu sych cymysg

These materials are not currently accepted at this site:

  • black bag waste
  • textiles
  • food waste
  •  mixed dry recycling bags

Unwaith y cewch ganiatâd i ddod ar y safle, byddwch yn cael 10 munud i waredu eich eitemau.

Once you are given permission to enter the site, you will be allowed 10 minutes to dispose of your items.

Dilynwch yr arwyddion rheoli traffig a dilynwch y cyfarwyddiadau ar gyfer parcio’n ddiogel.

Please follow the traffic management signs and follow the instructions for how to park safely.

A ydych wedi trefnu eich slot amser i ddod i’r safle hwn? Gwnewch yn siwr bod manylion eich slot amser yn barod i’w dangos i’n staff. Os nad ydych wedi archebu slot ymlaen llaw, ni fyddwch yn cael dod ar y safle.

Have you booked your slot to attend this site? Please have your booking details ready to show our staff. If you haven’t prebooked a slot, you will not be allowed to enter the site.

Os ydych chi neu rywun sy’n byw gyda chi wedi cael symptomau o COVID-19, dylai’ch gwastraff personol e.e. hancesi papur a dillad diogelwch personol e.e. menig, ffedogau a masgiau wyneb tafladwy gael eu:

  • bagio’n ddwbl,
  • rhoi i’r neilltu am o leiaf 72 awr (3 diwrnod),
  • ac yna eu rhoi yn eich bin neu fag ar gyfer gwastraff na ellir ei ailgylchu.

Os nad oedd y camau hyn wedi’u cymryd, mae’n rhaid i chi fynd â’r gwastraff hwn yn ôl i’ch cartref.

If you or someone you live with has had symptoms of COVID-19, personal waste e.g. tissues and PPE e.g. disposable gloves, aprons and masks must have been:

  • double-bagged,
  • left for 72 hours (3 days),
  • then placed in your container for non-recyclable waste.

If these steps weren’t taken, you must take this waste home

Mae’r safle yma ar agor am oriau cyfyngedig.

This site is open for limited hours.

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