Lockdown easing has started, and as more businesses start to reopen, it made me wonder - what would people say they had missed the most during lockdown? Restaurants, pubs, hairdressers, holidays, seeing friends and family?
Well in our industry, you would think a trip to the tip/HWRC/CA site would be in the top 10 judging by the reaction of certain MPs, which culminated in the “tips and toilets letter” (never thought I’d say that!) that was sent to our chief execs last month.
It does feel like certain things are getting back to normal though. I had to put fuel in my car last week but as I pulled into the garage forecourt, I couldn’t remember which side the petrol cap was, as it had been 4 months since my last visit! The next challenge was remembering my card PIN number, with doing so much contactless paying, punching in the number felt very old fashioned.
This new normal saw me chair my first ever webinar at the beginning of July. We have had to postpone our Scotland conference twice (new date 1 December) and so we decided in the meantime to use the previous rescheduled date for an online event. We had three excellent speakers who gave an update on major policy issues affecting Scotland currently: DRS, EPR and the waste management sector in general. If you missed it, you can catch the recording here.
One of the polls we asked during the webinar was how did people think recycling rates would be affected as a result of the pandemic. Whilst 60% thought they would decrease, I was impressed that 38% of attendees thought they would increase. I didn’t have the opportunity during the webinar to find out why so many thought that, but I know in my council we have seen an upsurge in garden waste and commingled recycling as more people stayed at home during lockdown and maybe the good weather meant that gardening has become more popular. It will be interesting to see the first quarter statistics for all councils when they are available. It will also be interesting to see if waste composition changes as we adapt to the new normal.
Also, the DEFRA Resources and Waste Strategy stakeholder consultation groups have resumed, and LARAC Exec members have been attending many online meetings regarding DRS, EPR and Consistency. Whilst we cannot share the content of these meetings, if you have any questions please do contact us. The public consultations are likely to be early 2021, as Covid-19 has impacted on the timescale. This is not expected to slip much further as Defra is still aiming for the same end date of 2023.
The LARAC Awards were launched last week as we still want to recognise the success and hard work that councils have done over the past year, more so with Covid-19 issues added into the mix. We have updated the application guidelines this year, so please ensure you read the details before submitting. There will be a virtual awards ceremony ahead of our virtual conference, possibly the afternoon or evening of 13 October. Watch this space for more details on the ceremony but get your entries in soon as the closing date is 3 August 2020.
PS - I did actually check the internet and there have been a few surveys done on what people have missed during lockdown, and HWRC visits were definitely not in the top 10!