Defra has confirmed that household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) “should remain open” during the lockdown, after a visit to a recycling centre was again listed as an ‘exception’ to the restrictions on leaving home.

The department said HWRCs should remain open in England line with Defra guidance updated on 12 October, which reiterates that “there is no reason in law why HWRCs cannot be open where possible”.


The guidance for England adds that local authorities “should seek to retain access to HWRC services for their residents to dispose of waste”.

Where possible, the range of materials accepted at HWRCs should remain as close to a normal service provision.

It adds that local authorities are legally obliged to provide places for residents to take their waste by section 51 (1)(b) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.


However, the guidance states a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate, and the decision to open a HWRC remains with the relevant local authority.

Householders should also still check with the local authority whether their local HWRC is open and also any local restrictions on waste accepted.


Reopened facilities “need to avoid crowding and minimise opportunities for the virus to spread by maintaining a distance of at least two metres”, the document explained.

This advice applies both to inside any office or break area, and to where staff may need to interact with householders.

Where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, to manage the HWRC, “there should be a consideration as to whether that activity needs to continue for the HWRC to operate”.

If this activity is required mitigating actions should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission between staff and/or householders


A string of English councils had announced this week that they had received assurance that their HWRCs will be able to stay open.

Hampshire, Oxford and Nottingham, among others, all announced they are planning to keep their facilities open (see story).

The vast majority of recycling centres were closed as part of the first lockdown as they weren’t deemed “essential”, but were reopened with restrictions and measures in place in May


All recycling centres were closed in Wales as part of its ‘fire-break’ lockdown, which is due to end on 9 November.

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