Across waste services, the earliest impacts of Covid-19 were felt at the beginning of lockdown. The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) responded by supporting members by focusing on identifying immediate priorities and determining how best to advocate for what was needed from Government.
With the initial focus on supporting keyworkers across health and social care, there was a less immediate understanding of which other services should be classed as essential. Public health and protection are fundamental to waste management, so maintaining core household and recycling collections was going to be critical. Gaining acceptance of waste teams as keyworkers, both in public awareness and across Government to ensure children were still able to attend schools and nurseries, was urgent. Without this shift in perception there would have been a rundown of core services and the risk of a second public health emergency on our streets. Defra quickly took that on board and to help engage the public, ADEPT co-ordinated a social media campaign to highlight waste workers’ vital role.