LARAC survey shows impact of Omicron on frontline services

Since September last year, when shortages of HGV drivers were a national debate affecting councils' ability to provide waste and recycling collections from households and businesses, LARAC has been undertaking a monthly survey of the 300+ members it represents to use their experiences to monitor disruptions to the frontline and supporting infrastructure across the UK. Over this timescale different aspects of our services have suffered disruption at different rates. But with the national media publishing stories and pictures of black bin bags piled in the streets, our January survey was a chance to test out whether this was a nationwide problem or if councils across the land were managing the numerous challenges they face at this time of year.

Following analysis of our latest survey returns, the impact of Omicron on frontline waste and recycling services and supporting treatment and disposal infrastructure, is clear

Absence rates for confirmed or suspected Covid cases jumped to a never before seen average of 4.87%, well above what we have seen since September

Frontline collections had been improving but recycling and mixed food/garden waste are starting to show deterioration again

The good news for LARAC members is a reducing number of HGV driver and general vacancies

John Coates, Interim LARAC CEO, comments “The information provided by our member councils provides the clearest picture of how frontline waste and recycling services are being affected by Covid and other pressures such as driver shortages and increased tonnages over the festive period. This mirrors reports in the national media and the experience of residents in our communities.

Christmas is always a challenging time for councils with increased sickness due to the annual flu bug and increased tonnages of waste and recycling to collect. Add in the Omicron variant and this year has been extremely challenging but local council staff and their contractors continue to do their best against all the odds to maintain collections and keep treatment infrastructure operating.

LARAC applauds the efforts of colleagues in our member councils across the UK and will work tirelessly to support them with good data and information sharing to help them with the daily challenges they face.”

LARAC members view the full survey results and trends