Recycling centres are to reopen in Wales Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn has announced.
Recycling centres will slowly begin to reopen in the next week, with the majority of local authorities opting to reopen from the 26th May.
Recycling centres across Wales had been shut in order to maintain key services, in particular the household collection of waste and recycling.
The stay at home message in Wales remains and people wishing to visit a centre are urged to go only if it is essential and the waste and or recycling cannot be picked up by their council’s kerbside collections or stored at home. Anyone with, or in a household with someone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or currently shielding should not use this service.
All councils have agreed a common set of criteria that will need to be met before they can consider the safe re-opening of recycling sites. Councils will need to be satisfied that:
- there is an appropriate level of staff available to operate the facilities.
- the sites can comply with stringent health and safety requirements including sanitisation, social distancing and the implications for traffic management.
- trade unions are being consulted to agree the basis for any reopening and operation of the centres.
Safety is the top priority and this may affect the date some recycling centres reopen and why some sites are open before others. Due to the impact of the pandemic varying in different parts of Wales, operational aspects such as staffing levels, suitability of the site to be adapted for social distancing restrictions and items being collected will be different for different recycling centres and will potentially lead to queues.
The Welsh Government has urged people in Wales to remain patient when using recycling centres, check with their council for details of which recycling centres are open, how to access them, what materials are being collected and information of what social distancing measures are in place. Only sites which can be adapted to make sure everybody is safe will be opening, with some centres requiring people to book in advance.
The move to reopen some HWRCs will help address the reports by some local authorities of an increase in fly-tipping during the pandemic. Fly-tipping is a crime in Wales and could mean a fixed penalty of up to £400 or prosecution for those convicted.
Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said:
Wales has a strong recycling record and we have been working with local authorities in Wales to reopen Recycling Centres in a safe way. Waste and recycling services are critical public services and we have developed clear guidance with local authorities on how they can reopen safely to ensure the wellbeing of staff and the public.
However, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or anyone living in a household with someone displaying symptoms of the virus or who are shielding should avoid visiting their local recycling centre.
I want to thank local authorities and the wider workforce who have worked tremendously hard throughout the pandemic to maintain key services and continue weekly waste and recycling collections.
Making sure that each recycling centre can operate safely and in line with social distancing is paramount in order to ensure the safety of the public and of our key workers. This will, however mean that there are likely to be queues associated with the changes in how these sites operate. I ask anyone using recycling centres to please be patient and to check ahead of visiting to ensure their local centre is open, what items are being accepted and what requirements are in place.
I am aware of an increase in some areas of fly-tipping - let's be clear, fly-tipping is never justified and all waste should be stored safely or disposed of legally. You should dispose of items from the home using the kerbside collection service or through your council’s home collection service, before considering a visit recycling centre.
Councillor Andrew Morgan (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Leader said:
Councils are working together, and with the police, Welsh Government and trade unions, to explore how recycling sites can be adapted to comply with current coronavirus rules.
Individual authorities will re-open sites in their area when they’re satisfied it is safe to do so, and when residents can feel confident in using them again. We would advise residents to keep an eye on their local council’s website for further information about the timescale for re-opening in their area.
The date recycling centres will reopen is dependent on staffing levels, capacity and setup of the site and may differ from one local authority to another. Further information on when household waste and recycling centres will reopen and their opening times can be found on each of the local authority's websites.