The letter, thanks waste sector workers for the “vital service” they have continued to provide.

“I want to pay tribute to all of you who are working in such challenging times to protect the environment, local amenity and people’s health,” Pow writes.

“To thank you for keeping waste moving. Maintaining the rates of black bag rubbish collection, working behind the scenes in recycling centres, treatment plants, energy recovery centres and disposal sites despite all the challenges that coronavirus brings.”

The letter also recognises the pressures felt by the waste sector – from staff absences to financial pressures to an increase in household waste – and thanks workers for their resilience and “cooperative spirit”.

Pow also refers to government guidance on PPE and social distancing at work before assuring waste workers that they are “not forgotten” by government.

“I am enormously grateful for all you are doing, and will continue to do, and proud of your commitment to the services you provide,” she concludes.

The letter has been well-received by the waste industry.

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said: “We are grateful to the minister for acknowledging the tireless, but often overlooked, work of recycling and waste sector workers who continue to provide a vital public service during this crisis.

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