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Household recycling centres struggling with increasing pressure

Dorset household recycling centre

Dorset’s household recycling centres opened on 11th May, after Government guidance was relaxed. Since then, more than 113,000 visits have been noted.

Sherborne’s household recycling centre opened late and with an unusual solution to the problem of a narrow road.

With all ten centres open and running at 50% capacity, concerns are now being raised over the ability of household recycling centres to cope with increasing demand.

Certain centres are seeing their services stretched and under stress, as more and more people make trips to the tip to drop off what’s mostly garden waste, wood and black bag waste.

Dorset Council stated that many people have been making trips more than once a week, and some even multiple times in one day.

Contrary to expectations, Monday and Tuesdays are the busiest times of the week for Dorset’s household recycling centres; with weekends being the quietest.

In a statement, Dorset Council is asking the public whether their trip is really necessary, and to consider storing waste safely at home while services are running at reduced capacity and under restrictions.

All ten of Dorset Council’s HRCs are running at 50% capacity as social distancing measures remain in effect, halving the amount of available parking spaces at each site. To manage resulting queues, volunteers and redeployed Council employees were brought in to “meet and greet” visitors, explaining how to negotiate the new site restrictions and helping prevent traffic problems.

Dorset Council

Councillors are concerned that visitor numbers are rising, while volunteers have to return to their usual jobs.

With the average waiting times at household recycling centres being 90 minutes or higher in certain areas, Dorset Council is reminding the public of the following:

  • While HRCs are open, social distancing measures are in effect at all sites so they can only accommodate half the usual number of visitors at any given time.
  • Please consider whether you need to drop off waste at an HRC at this time or whether it can be safely stored at home until restrictions are relaxed or lifted.
  • If you do need to visit an HRC, try to avoid Mondays and Tuesdays. Late afternoons are quieter, but always be prepared to queue.
  • Please sort your waste by type before arriving to reduce the amount of time on site.
  • Remember to follow on-site signage and instructions.

HRCs were reopened to help residents who could not store their waste safely at home. But while all sites across the county are operating, normal service has not resumed as we need to make sure visitors can socially distance at our HRCs, which restricts the number of people we can safely accommodate at any given time.

There should be relatively few cases where waste cannot be stored safely for a week, so there is little need for people to visit more frequently. Therefore, please consider whether your journey to an HRC is essential now.

If a safety reason justifies a visit to the HRC, it is better to arrive later in the day and avoid Mondays and Tuesdays. It would be regrettable to introduce further measures to ration access. If we keep queuing traffic to a minimum, we can make sure as many people as possible can drop off their waste without causing issues for others.

Councillor Tony Alford, Dorset Council
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