'Amazon effect' during lockdown contributes to £2m extra waste bill

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The 'Amazon effect' during lockdown has led to more cardboard being recycled by Norfolk households. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

More than £2m has been added to Norfolk's bill for dealing with waste and recycling during the coronavirus pandemic - partly due to people doing more shopping online.

People spending more time at home due to Covid-19 lockdowns contributed to 14,000 tonnes of extra rubbish and 11,000 tonnes more recycling being produced.

So much more waste is being produced that some councils have had to buy and provide extra bins to cope with the increase in rubbish and recycling.

Changes are being made to bin collections in King's Lynn and West Norfolk to maintain social distanc

Coronavirus lockdowns have triggered a large increase in waste being collected from Norfolk homes. - Credit: IAN BURT

And it has added to the costs for Norfolk County Council, which pays district councils per tonne for recycling and has to cover the cost of disposing of rubbish which cannot be recycled.

There has also been a plea for people not to leave cardboard out in the rain, as once it has got wet it cannot be recycled.

Broadland District Council director. Photo credit ©Simon Finlay Photography.

Broadland District Council director. Photo credit ©Simon Finlay Photography. - Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

Simon Phelan, assistant director community service for Broadland and South Norfolk council's said: "Across the county, and certainly in Broadland and South Norfolk, we've seen an increase in cardboard. which we're calling the Amazon effect.

"There's been a 30pc to 35pc increase in the amount of cardboard being put out.

"We don't mind seeing that, as it's recycling and we're keen to encourage that, but if it gets soggy it cannot be recycled and it has to be thrown away.

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"So, we'd urge people to store it where it won't get wet and only put it out just before collection, so it doesn't get wet."

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Some 25,000 extra tonnes of waste has been produced in Norfolk over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. - Credit: Archant

Mr Phelan said as well as a general increase in residual waste - rubbish which cannot be recycled - the lockdowns had also seen an increase in garden waste as people took the opportunity to clear up their gardens.

That was also the case in the Breckland area, where the borough council reported how more than 2,000 more people had joined its brown bin garden waste service.

Mr Phelan said there had also been an increase in glass bottles, with the closure of pubs meaning more people were drinking at home.

West Norfolk Borough Council is spending almost £100,000 on new bins because of the coronavirus pandemic.

And Stuart Dark, MBE, the council's cabinet member for environmental services and public protection, said: “With people spending more time at home and in their garden, we have noticed that people are recycling not only more, but better.

Claps for Carers at the Borough Council depot on Hardwick Narrows. Public open space and waste teams

Stuart Dark, West Norfolk borough council cabinet member for environmental services and public protection. - Credit: Matthew Usher

"Textile banks have been utilised while charity shops have been closed and the popularity of the brown bin garden waste service has soared. 

"More and more people are needing bigger or extra green bins for their recycling.

"This is great news for the environment and I hope people will continue their good recycling habits when the current lockdown restrictions are eased. 

"Thank you to everyone for understanding the pressures on the waste team and thank you for everything you are doing to recycle more and more of your waste.”

He added that, once people take their bins back in after they have been emptied, they should clean their bin handles and wash their hands to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

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The amount of food waste being collected in Norwich has increased. - Credit: Archant

And Norwich City Council saw a surge in food waste being collected, with opportunities for people to eat out having been limited over the past year.

A spokesperson for City Hall said: “Volumes from households have increased, both in waste (around 8pc more this financial year) and recycling (around 10pc more).

"The biggest increase has been in food waste, around 60pc more, some of which might be down to people eating all their meals at home rather than at work or school or eating out.

“It’s important to understand there is no precedent for the circumstances in which our services are currently operating and that the impact of successive lockdowns is not only felt in households.

"At some point, greater assessment will need to be carried out about the impacts of litter, fly-tipping and business waste to balance the changes we have seen in household collections.”

Of the rubbish collected in the first half of 2020/21, almost 44pc was recycled, just over 53pc went to energy from waste, including incineration, about 2pc went to landfill and a "minor amount" went to specialist disposal.

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham. Norfolk County Council has been sending some of the county

More than half the waste collected in Norfolk in the first half of 2020/21 went to energy from waste plants, such as incinerators. - Credit: Archant

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