Handling Waste and Recycling During COVID & Lockdown

In early January 2021, the UK Government announced another nationwide lockdown, the third since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. With us now as a nation ‘Staying Home’, as the lockdown slogan demands, we have seen a shift in our normal routines and many changes have occurred, one of which being an influx of waste.

With staff working from home or being furloughed, children being home school and people just generally being at home more, household waste levels have undoubtedly seen a rise. The hospitality and restaurant sector has been left at a standstill with the temporary closures, this means we are eating at home far more than usual. In particular, there has been an increase in both food waste and packaging, amongst other general waste. The increase in the waste itself isn’t a surprise nor a concern, but this will become an issue if the rubbish is not handled correctly, this is why we all need to take greater responsibility when it comes to COVID and Lockdown waste management.


  • Be more conscious about the waste levels you are producing, and try and minimise them where you can. We have lots of guides and tips to help you reduce waste from the source.
  • To reduce food waste, plan ahead – ensure you don’t over-purchase or cook excessive amounts.
  • Make sure you have a full understanding of your Local Authorities waste strategies and what types of waste and recycling they accept. It is also important to understand which items can and cannot be recycled (in general and with your council) to avoid cross-contamination within recycling streams.
  • If you are self-isolating and feeling ill, putting any potentially infected items like used tissues or cleaning cloths into separate plastic bags and double bagging them. These bags should then be put aside for at least 72 hours (3 days) before they go into the external bin. For more information, see the Public Health England website.
  • Facemasks and gloves, amongst many other PPE, can not be recycled or appropriately collected outside of a medical or clinical environment, as such always place them into the general waste (if you are self-isolating, follow the above step).
  • Although it may be tempting, we must avoid big clear-outs during lockdown. Many recycling centres and charity shops are not open to recycle your unwanted items, and many local authorities and bin crews do not have the capacity to store them.
  • Keep checking our local council’s website regularly for updates on types and frequencies of recycling and waste collections where we live – including what can and can’t be recycled and any changes that may affect you and the waste collected.
  • Take this opportunity to learn a new skill that will help reduce your waste, maybe learn to cook new foods, learn to repair broken or worn items, brush up on your gardening skills so you can ‘grow your own’ etc.

Whilst at home more, it is the ideal opportunity to focus on your waste management and how this can be at its best. Make more of an effort to ensure you are recycling and handling your waste as effectively as possible, to help us get one step closer to a greener planet.