As I write this, its Freedom Day, in England, or as some are calling it, the first day of the countdown to the next lockdown! This is supposed to be the final, irreversible stage of the Government’s roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions. Whilst the devolved nations have various dates for their own final relaxations, here in England the lockdown easing is already causing some confusion with certain “guidance” being recommended concerning face masks and socially meeting others. Whether you agree or not with the lockdown easing measures, there will always be confusion if the guidance is a recommendation and not legally enforced.
This is because the Government’s stance is for people to have “personal responsibility” in deciding what they should/shouldn’t do. I can’t help but see the similarity with our day job and applying the principle of personal responsibility in getting people to recycle. Despite all the education and guidance we have provided, there is still a section of society that refuse to recycle and they won’t do unless we have powers of enforcement as a last resort. I know that I’m probably sounding like a broken record on the subject, it is something I feel strongly about, but I think others are starting to see this especially as Extended Producer Responsibly is implemented. We can introduce new services, but if people do not take personal responsibility to recycle, then our recycling rates will not improve whilst we have only the carrots and no sticks.
Last week we held our quarterly LARAC Exec meeting, and as well as the usual LARAC business, we talked about the upcoming conferences we have planned. There is the Scotland Conference on 24 August, the Wales Conference on 8 September and our UK conference on 6 and 7 October (Birmingham). It was really great to hear that bookings have been flooding in for the latter, and actually higher than at the same point 2 years ago; possibly a reflection of our need to get out from behind the monitors and actually see people face to face?
Places are free for LARAC members at the Scotland and Wales conferences, and there is a discount for LARAC members for the UK Conference. All the information is on the LARAC website events page.
The Exec also talked about the issue of HGV driver shortages, and how it starting to affect services, not just with collection authorities, but also at transfer stations and MRFs. DEFRA is due to launch a survey this week to ask for more qualitative and quantitative data on the driver shortage issues so please do complete this in order for our voices to be heard. With talk of food shortages and delays in supply of general goods, waste services may not be the highest topic on the agenda at the moment, but as we were identified as a key service when Covid-19 hit last year, we need to ensure DEFRA know what the consequences will mean for our services too.