How to dispose of waste during the virus outbreak

We’re living in unprecedented times and our lives are looking very different from how they used to do only a few months ago.

There are not many aspects of normal life that have been left untouched by the coronavirus pandemic, and waste management is one of those affected areas.

While some local council waste collections have been unaffected throughout, many across the country have been.

This is due to a combination of things; mainly staff shortages due to periods of self-isolation, and the increase in domestic waste volumes due to everyone being at home more.

So, what should you be doing with your household waste during this time?

Check with your local council for your collection dates and read on to learn more about waste and COVID-19.

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Increase in domestic waste leads to councils burning recycling

With the majority of the UK at home for the foreseeable future — whether working from home, temporarily unemployed, or self-isolating — the amount of domestic waste being produced by households across the country has increased dramatically.

Usually, waste would be spread between household waste, public waste, and commercial waste. However, at the moment, with many workplaces, public bins and recycling centres closed, our domestic bins are filling up quicker than ever before.

In fact, local authorities have been reporting an increase of between 20 and 50 per cent on usual domestic waste volumes across the UK.

On top of this, councils are experiencing far higher staff absence levels than usual due to the self-isolation recommendations set by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, what impact has all of this had on the nation’s household waste collection services?

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UK’s bottle banks overflow following the festive period

Following on from the UK’s Christmas and New Year celebrations, bottle banks across the country have been left overflowing with empty bottles that were once filled with wine, beer and other beverages. Unfortunately, instead of returning with the glass waste when the bottle banks have been emptied, users have been piling the bottles up next to the banks — in bags, boxes, or just loose — essentially flytipping, and not making the job of the recycling teams any easier! Let’s hope they are all emptied soon, as some of the images look like a health and safety hazard.

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Colgate launches a toothbrush recycling service

Colgate UK has announced that it has partnered with TerraCycle and set up the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Programme.

This new recycling scheme allows customers to post their used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, toothpaste caps, toothpaste packaging and electric toothbrush heads to TerraCycle for free, who will then recycle everything on behalf of Colgate. This scheme covers all brands of toothpaste and toothbrushes — not just Colgate.

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Aldi boosts its recycling rate with plastic tray switch

Budget supermarket, Aldi, has boosted its recycling rate by switching some of its black plastic fruit and vegetable packaging out for clear plastic packaging, which is much more easily recycled.

The rest of Aldi’s black packaging will be phased out as part of the company’s commitment to making sure all of its packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. This simple change from black to clear plastic will divert 265 tonnes of plastic from landfill annually.

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Air pollution linked to decline of city sparrows

The population of London’s house sparrows dropped by 60 per cent between 1994 and 2006, and the blame has been placed on an increase in air pollution — namely, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) produced by diesel cars. While some had only considered people and plants being affected by air pollution, a study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has shown that birds and wildlife are sadly just as susceptible.

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