It could be one of the great silver linings of the coronavirus crisis
There’s been a lot of talk about the incredible environmental benefits of lockdown, from far less traffic, to all kinds of animals returning to the city’s parks.
It seems that fewer people out and about means nature starts coming back.
One big benefit that perhaps we didn’t expect is a massive boost in recycling in many parts of London.
Ordering more items online and eating at home during lockdown means we are producing more recycling than ever before, leading to overflowing boxes of card, paper, cans and bottles.
One area where this is having a massive impact is the West London borough of Richmond.
Now Richmond Council is putting more recycling crews and vehicles on the borough’s streets after it saw household recycling increase by a massive 42 per cent.
Since the end of March the council says household recycling has increased from an expected collection of 33 tonnes to almost 47 tonnes every single day.
This has put extra pressure on the service, with more waste discarded than at Christmas, which is causing vehicles to regularly fill up early.
In a small number of places crews have been unable to complete their routes, prompting the council to put on more crews and vehicles with the help of its new provider, Serco.
The council has warned that there may continue to be disruptions, but have asked residents for their patience.
Any collections missed will be collected, but possibly not on the scheduled day.
Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, Cllr Martin Elengorn, said:
“We are working hard to ensure that your bins are still collected in the coming weeks and months. We have added additional capacity within the service. But we need your help. On average over the past few weeks, each household has gone from producing 1.95 kg to 2.75 kg each week in recycling.
“These are unique circumstances and I am sure everyone agrees that we all need to work together to get through it. We are asking residents to really look at what they can do to reduce the amount that they are throwing away and at the same time please be understanding if your collection isn’t picked up on your scheduled day.”
The council has asked residents to try to minimise the amount of waste they produce and avoid big clear-outs.
It has asked people to hold on to larger items like furniture or mattresses until the outbreak has subsided as Townmead Road recycling centre in Kew remains closed.
Residents have also been asked not to burn waste on bonfires as the smoke causes air pollution and can have negative health effects for people living nearby.
Waste and recycling should be left ready for collection at the front boundary of properties from 8pm the night before and no later than 6am on their collection day.
Food waste should be separated and the caddy closed securely.
Anyone who is self-isolating or feeling ill should put any potentially infected items like used tissues or cleaning cloths into separate plastic bags and double bag them.
These bags should be put aside for at least 72 hours before they are put in external bins.