New guidelines for a high-quality recycling with Covid-19

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Covid-19 has an impact on every life ambit, appliances recycling included. For this reason, the H2020 Collectors project, in which the Weee Forum has been involved, updated its recently published practical guidelines for local waste collection systems to better assess their situation and improve their performances. For three years, partners of the Collectors project have been analysing and comparing existing good practices of waste collection and sorting for paper and packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment, construction and demolition waste. The results and outcomes of this work has been made available to decision-makers from local and regional authorities, producer responsibility organisations, and national and EU institutions in the form of practical guidelines. These highlight effective practices and instruments leading to high quality recycling, how to overcome local specific challenges, and what environmental and economic benefits can be obtained by improving the waste collection systems. The project’s consortium just published a new version of the document to include a section on the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on waste collection. We reported what has emerged in a survey and complementary researches conducted by Collectors project partner ACR+: about the changing due to Covid 19 in the recycling operations: «the Covid-19 pandemic forced public authorities and municipal waste operators to rapidly adapt their waste management systems and procedures to take into consideration elements such as safety and health measures for employees, waste treatment requirements, general procedures due to coronavirus for waste sector, staff availability, etc. The Covid-19 pandemic has several impacts on municipal waste management. Among those, we can mention: impact on waste generators: change in population, slowdowns or closure of business, stop of tourism activities… that led to fluctuating quantities and composition; impact on the composition of waste generated, generated by the changes of consumption patterns and the generation of waste from personal protection equipment, generally disposed as healthcare waste or residual waste; impact on waste services: shortage of staff, restriction of movement preventing inhabitants to reach collection points. These different trends drove local authorities to rearrange their collection services, e.g., by closing civic amenity sites to limit interactions between the population and staff, or reduce or stop some of their services to overcome the difficulties linked with shortage of staff. It had an impact on source separation, but also on fly-tipping that increased in many territories.»

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