The UK could be hit by a shortage of national carton as more local councils suspend their regular recycling collections due to the pressures caused by the coronavirus epidemic, the industry’s commercial agency warned.
The Recycling Association said it has major concerns about the looming European and even global shortage of fiber – used paper and cardboard – which is used to produce millions of essential cardboard boxes for the distribution of food and medical supplies.
Struggling to cope with an increase in garbage collection equivalent to Christmas levels now that families are in virtual blockade, local authorities are gradually scaling down and even suspending food, green waste and recycling collections.
With skyrocketing home deliveries, much of the fiber will end up in household bins, which means it will be incinerated or landfilled, warns the Recycling Association (TRA). Significant quantities of fiber were also lost by major high street retailers such as McDonald’s, Primark, John Lewis, Argos and B&Q after non-essential businesses were shut down.
Simon Ellin, CEO of the TRA, said: “We are very concerned about the signs that Europe is already running out of fiber with which to make cardboard boxes. Food and medical supplies all move by cardboard box and if we can’t make cardboard boxes, everything stops. If the councils stop collecting recycling, and many of them are, all this fiber is burnt or landfilled and we will be short. “
The institution represents over 100 organizations in the collection and processing sector, ranging from independent traders, brokers, waste management companies and mills. It is the largest network of independent waste and recycling operators in the United Kingdom, with combined annual sales of over £ 2 billion.
Fiber recycling is a global market and the flow of materials in Europe and the world, but the blockade implies that physical obstacles are increasingly being raised to prevent this distribution. In Germany – the largest European player – significant volumes of fiber come from Poland, but the Poland-Germany border is now closed. This meant that Germany is looking for material from France and the United Kingdom.
A spokesman for the local government association said: “The councils are conducting local efforts to support communities through the coronavirus crisis. As councils prioritize protecting the most vulnerable, there will inevitably be disruptions to other important services, such as waste collection and street cleaning.
“Some recommendations need to change their disposal and recycling services due to the impact of coronavirus on collection personnel. They will continue to work hard to keep recycling and recycling services as effective as possible.”
In some parts of the UK there has been a wave of “backyard fires” – which is illegal – following the closure of recycling centers and tip waste from the virus.
Firefighters teams in Wigan, for example, have recently been called to at least 12 fires involving household waste following the closure of local recycling centers.
Meanwhile, Unite, the largest union in the United Kingdom and Ireland, is warning that some waste contractors and local councils across the UK have failed to ensure that waste workers are physically out of the way and have other workers. security measures to prevent coronavirus.
He identified numerous reports of workers who are expected to travel with three or four other workers to the wagon cabin for rubbish in blatant violation of the rules for physical removal. He also reported complaints about the lack of gloves and hand sanitizer, the lack of thorough cleaning of the wagons and other problems.
Jim Kennedy, Unite national official for local authorities, said: “Unite members recognize that they are essential workers and want to offer this key service, but are becoming increasingly frightened that, and implicitly their families, are exposed to unnecessary and unnecessary risks, due to the flagrant disregard for contractors and the advice of the rules. “