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How the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected the Waste Industry

For the last year and a half, the waste industry along with the entire world has been struck hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The global economy came to a near standstill as entire industries were forced to close down and international travel all but stopped. Oil prices plummeted, supermarket shelves were empty as customers ran out panic buying, shops, bars and restaurants were closed for months at a time.

Now, a year and a half later, we finally look to be heading back to something resembling normality. However, we might be out of lockdown, but we are not yet out of the woods; we are still very much feeling the effects of the pandemic – politically, socially and economically.

Where we saw such a dramatic drop in the amount of industry, trade and travel since March 2020, the amount of waste we have been producing is significantly less than it was pre-pandemic. Due to the forced closure of industries such as manufacturing, retail and hospitality, these sectors have not been producing anywhere near the volumes of waste they once were.

This means that the supply of scrap materials such as plastic, glass and cardboard into the waste industry has not been as steady or as substantial as the industry needs. Like any business, companies that deal with waste materials have overheads, have staff salaries and many other expenses to worry about. Therefore, these businesses rely on the availability of waste to stay viable.

Take the retail industry as an example; throughout the many lockdowns we’ve been placed under, the vast majority of these businesses have had to close due to being ‘non-essential’. Of those that were allowed to stay open, they experienced a greatly reduced number of customers where so many people were fearful of leaving their homes. With so many members of the public having elderly relatives or relatives with underlying health conditions, people were just not willing to put their family, their friends and their communities at risk.

Waste Industry

The lack of waste due to the closure of industries such as retail and hospitality has been a major blow to the waste industry. But this has not been the only impact the pandemic has had; the amount of fear that came with this pandemic – justifiably so – made waste management and waste generating sites highly cautious of allowing people in.

Obviously not wanting to risk an outbreak of COVID-19, the sites that produce and manage waste have been very hesitant about allowing anyone non-essential to enter their premises. This has included representatives from recycling companies; this has been changing more recently, but it is still a long way off the way things were pre-COVID.

So, not only has there been less waste available, but it has been harder for recyclers to find, to buy and, due to the complications with haulage and exporting caused by Brexit, harder to move. It is nothing short of an understatement to say that the waste industry has been struggling throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic, and there are still many challenges ahead.

During the summer of 2021, the UK and Ireland have been able to move away from lockdowns and have seen the restrictions imposed on their economies ease. Businesses are opening up, people are travelling again, retail outlets are open, people going back to the workplace and with all of this good news, the amount of waste being produced is beginning to increase – though nowhere near to the levels it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

It is important that, just because we are glad to be free of lockdowns and restrictions, we don’t allow ourselves to become complacent about how we handle scrap. Let’s Recycle It Ltd has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support both the Irish and UK economies, and we are still here to offer our services in dealing with the now increasing volume of waste being generated.

Let’s Recycle It has the team, the experience and the network to deal with your waste quickly, sustainable and cost-effectively. We can help the companies that have struggled their way through the pandemic to turn their waste into revenue streams. As well as this, with our industry-leading support office we have the means to overcome any of the obstacles involved in haulage and exporting waste caused by Brexit.

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