Recycling and the circular economy during a pandemic

POSTED: 16th Apr

Dr. Adam Read, external affairs director at SUEZ, talks to us about the challenges of operating waste and recycling collections during the Coronavirus pandemic.

SUEZ is maintaining municipal services as best we can, where we are working for local authorities. Collection, treatment services, and disposal are currently running pretty much as close to close to full capacity as possible. Some of the ancillary, marginal services such as green waste or food waste or bulky waste collection has stopped, as well as most of our commercial collections, as many businesses are closed or working from home.

This lockdown is likely to go on for a while longer. It’s difficult to predict of course, but I’m not expecting to see a significant change in behaviour, operation, and performance between now and probably September.   

The shortage of recyclate hasn’t been a big problem for the UK so far. Almost all local authorities are still running recycling collection, although the frequency may have dropped. There is one problem in the UK that might arise – single-stream collection relies a lot of manpower, and the next few months are going to be challenging. Trying to run a materials recovery facility without people standing next to each other is almost impossible. If we can’t get clean material in, we will struggle to get clean material out. Automation works to a point, but it cannot isolate contaminated cardboard, or flexible packaging stuck to a piece of paper.  Other countries that have been hit even harder by the pandemic, such as Italy and Spain, the recycling system is pretty much on its knees.

Read the full article by Packaging Europe here

Sign up for news updates


With the success of Propak West Africa 2021 marking our biggest and best edition to date, we are already preparing for the 2022 edition - and this is going to be even bigger! Get in touch now to secure the best stand at the exhibition.

Book a stand

Book a stand