Waste operators have asked to be excused from performance penalties from the councils they have contracts with as part of the effort to keep services running during the pandemic.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), the voice of the UK’s recycling and waste management industry, yesterday called on the Government to help keep vital waste services moving.

The ESA urged the Government to ensure that temporary provision is in place to relieve operators from contractual performance penalties with the local authorities they serve. The focus, they say, should be on keeping services running, and not on meeting contractual targets.

‘ESA members provide a large proportion of local authority recycling and waste management services across the UK under contract,’ said executive director of the ESA, Jacob Hayler.

‘Normally, operators might incur contractual financial penalties for not meeting agreed performance criteria, such as recycling targets. Our industry needs assurance from Government and local authority partners that any temporary decline in performance measures will not be penalised.’

‘ESA members will, of course, continue to provide the best level of service possible, but these are times of crisis and the sector must focus on keeping core services moving – not on meeting targets,’ he added.

The ESA thanked the Government for recognising frontline recycling and waste industry workers as key workers which means they can continue to gain access to childcare.

The Government yesterday announced that all schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed as of next week as part of the effort to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. The children of key workers will still be able to attend school.

‘We are pleased to see the Government acknowledge the essential role of recycling and waste operatives during the Covid-19 pandemic which means that our sector’s workforce will continue to receive educational provision for their children – allowing them to get on with their vital jobs,’ said Mr Hayler.

However, he also said there were still ‘many other issues’ that needed resolving in order to ensure recycling and waste services continue during this crisis.

As well as performance penalty relief, the ESA also called for the waste and recycling sector to be prioritised as a critical industry to ensure the continuation of supplies necessary for it to keep operating, such as fuel, and requested short-term flexibility around planning and permitting conditions.

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