For most of our community, Covid-19 made 2020 a hard year, with many interruptions to work, leisure, transport and daily life. One thing that did not change was the commitment of key workers to protecting the public and continuing vital services. This includes those providing the council’s waste and recycling collections in Westminster.
A new documentary series follows Veolia, which provides Westminster’s Commercial Waste Services, across the company’s response to the pandemic. It shows how the Veolia group mobilised its teams to ensure the maintenance of essential services, whilst also safeguarding its employees.
Read on to find out more about how Westminster City Council and Veolia’s waste and recycling collections are continuing during the pandemic and lockdowns, and what this means to the local community.
Maintaining essential services
The importance of regular, reliable waste and recycling collection is never in doubt, but the unprecedented lifestyle changes related to Coronavirus have highlighted their vital role. Not only is there a clear necessity to protect public health, but maintaining essential services also preserves quality of life. Streets are kept clean, while traffic and transport can continue to run smoothly – in essence, “keeping the city moving”. Continuity and reliability in the face of disruption also bring some normality to what has been a difficult situation.
In Westminster, our team clears about 195,000 tonnes of waste and recycling every year, highlighting why they are designated as essential front-line workers. All of Westminster’s waste and recycling collections are operating as normal, including services that were scheduled to happen on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
You can find more information about waste collection and recycling during the pandemic here: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/coronavirus-information-rubbish-and-recycling
The page also has information about what local businesses and the public can do to help keep these services running safely and efficiently. Examples include checking for updates to services and attempting to minimise the amount of rubbish, recycling and food waste produced.
Maintaining the local area and serving our community
At Commercial Waste Services, our key service values are to be local, reliable, affordable, sustainable and responsible. While the documentary is a tribute to what Veolia calls its “everyday heroes”, the pandemic and lockdown have also brought recognition from residents, businesses and the council.
Veolia’s #StreetSmiles campaign encouraged residents to put a smiling sun picture in their window or near their bins, so it could be seen by their waste collectors.
Council leader Rachael Robathan praised the team, saying, “Veolia’s waste collection teams continued to work around the clock to keep Westminster clean, clear and moving. Their dedication to carrying out this vital service for residents is hugely appreciated by all.”
Comments from the teams themselves also show the pride operatives take in their work, but also how they feel about their role as part of the community. Driver Paul Simon said, “I’ve always felt part of the community, but the constant support I’ve seen from residents in the last months has really impressed me.” Ricardo Fernandes added, “I’m proud to be doing what I do and keeping communities going.”
How have you been managing your waste and recycling during the pandemic? You can find some helpful guides here, including resources created for specific types of business such as hotels, restaurants, offices and retail.