Alupro commends recycling industry’s resilience amid pandemic

Last week (14 April), the Association of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) published data investigating the impact of Covid-19 on local authority waste and recycling services. The findings report that more than 90% of councils are continuing to run dry recycling collections as normal (or with only minor disruptions) – despite national staff absence rates of around 20%.

This insight, says Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, not only demonstrates resilience from across the industry, but also national perseverance in the face of adversity. Recycling is providing an important response to the hugely challenging current scenario.

Hindley uses aluminium as an example. With inherently circular properties, aluminium can be collected, recycled and very quickly returned to a packaging system critical in the provision of food, drink and even essential medical supplies. The average beverage can has a cycle of just 60 days, meaning it can be reprocessed and returned to the supermarket shelf in less than eight weeks. Hindley says this emphasises the vital importance of maintaining kerbside collections and continuing to provide UK reprocessors with vital secondary raw materials.

Andy Doran, senior manager (Sustainability & Recycling Development) at Alupro member, Novelis UK, commented: “As our automaker customers are severely impacted, we have temporarily stopped our assets serving that sector. On the other hand, our Warrington plant will continue to serve the beverage can market, which remains very much business as usual in the current climate.”

Maintaining a continuous flow of aluminium packaging, says Hindley, is therefore essential to keep the cycle moving. As such, he says it’s positive to see that only 1% of MRFs nationwide are temporarily closed, with close to 95% operating either as normal or with only minor disruptions.

With social distancing and safe working practices paramount to maximising the wellbeing of staff and keeping facilities open, Alupro advocates adherence to the recently-published safety guidance advice from the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH). Compiled with insight from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE), the document details best practice for waste management facilities nationwide.

Hindley says that by adhering to this advice, transfer stations and MRFs will be able to continue supporting reprocessors nationwide in maintaining valuable services through a hugely challenging global period.

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