Keeping critical waste and recycling facilities operating

The NSW Government is working closely with the waste and recycling industry and councils to ensure critical waste services for the community continue.

This is a developing situation and the response taken by the NSW Government to COVID-19 may change over time.

The risk of transmission of COVID-19 when handling waste is low. Waste handling should continue using safe routine procedures.

Critical waste services continue

Public health orders have been issued to protect the community and reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection. Although these orders restrict some business activities, the waste and recycling industry should remain open and continue to provide its important services to the community and businesses.

Keeping facilities open also helps to reduce the potential for illegal dumping of waste that costs millions of dollars to clean up.

Keeping critical waste and recycling facilities open

Authorised workers can still go to work in the waste and recycling industry if they cannot work from home. Workers can continue to travel for the purposes of work. They may wish to carry identification or wear a uniform to assist with COVID-19 compliance checks.

Please ensure that you regularly review the list of public health orders at https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/information/covid19-legislation. The public health orders are subject to change.

Worker health and safety

Under WHS law, all employers or businesses are required to manage the risk of COVID-19 to authorised workers and others in the work environment.

Businesses and authorised workers must:

  • comply with national and state public health directions, including testing requirements for declared areas
  • promote the simple but effective physical distancing and hygiene measures
  • raise any concerns about the risk of contracting COVID-19 immediately with the employer and work with them to identify solutions.
  • monitor the extent of COVID-19 in your community and share any updates and advice from state and federal authorities regularly with workers.

Measures to reduce risk include providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves and eye protection, and the use of QR codes to register site attendance.

Further information on worker health and safety can be found at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/safe-workplaces/workers.

Required testing

If you are working more than 50km from Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong, you are required to get a test in the 7 days before working. You do not have to self-isolate when you are waiting for your test results.

Further information on testing requirements can be found at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/greater-sydney-workers.

Keeping waste and recycling facilities open to the public

It is important that the waste and recycling industry and councils continue to provide critical waste services to the public. This means that council collections of red, yellow, blue and green-lid bins should continue as normal.

Waste and recycling operations and facilities that paused activity due to the COVID lockdown restrictions are able to re-open in a safe and staged way, consistent with current Health advice and COVID restrictions

Further information on what people can and can’t do under the current rules is at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules.

How to protect yourself and others

These simple steps can help to keep people COVID-safe at your facility:

If you need to set up electronic check-in and QR codes, see https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe/customer-record-keeping/setting-up-electronic-check-and-qr-codes#snsw.

Household problem waste

Health advice has now confirmed that accessing household services, including waste and recycling services, is a reason to leave your home.

Councils and other waste providers may work towards a safe and staged opening of facilities to the public such as landfills, Return and Earn and Community Recycling Centres.

Waste and recycling activities, from both a business/operator and public perspective, will need to adhere to all relevant Public Health Order requirements such as use of QR codes and social distancing.

Operators should consider their particular situation when deciding when and how they can safely re-open.

Some facilities may choose to stay closed or delay reopening while they plan and implement detailed measures to ensure they can operate in a COVID safe way.

Before leaving home to access a Community Recycling Centre, check for opening hours at cleanout.com.au.

Check for scheduled Chemical CleanOut events at cleanout.com.au. Check with your local council for the latest information.

If you can’t access a Community Recycling Centre, store any household problem waste safely at home until your local Community Recycling Centre reopens, or a Chemical CleanOut event is scheduled for your area. If you need urgent advice on what to do with household problem waste, call the Environment Line on 131 555.

Key contacts

Service NSW: For information and advice for NSW businesses go to service.nsw.gov.au.

Health: Follow the COVID-19 health advice at NSW Health at health.nsw.gov.au.

Worker health and safety: Follow SafeWork NSW advice at safework.nsw.gov.au.

Waste: For information about transport and disposal of waste visit epa.nsw.gov.au or call the Environment Line on 131 555.

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