The current extreme weather affecting the UK creates all sorts of problems with increasing demands on UK national and local infrastructure. Moreover, it prompts once more for close attention to the impact of climate change and the need for planning and investment in the necessary infrastructure developments to cope with this.
Waste management is no exception. Waste producers may need to plan for additional waste storage space if collections are delayed while conditions are bad, while waste carriers and others need to consider the impact of long periods of cold weather on their operation.
At the local level, waste collection and recycling vehicles may not be able to negotiate narrow residential roads and householders will need to hold on to waste until the weather eases.
Small producers of clinical wastes many fare particularly badly. GPs and dentists may operate in premises with inadequate or no available space for waste storage. Presently, this might require waste to be left outside, often in insecure locations, awaiting delayed or deferred collection.
For domestic producers, this can be hugely problematic. Storage space in a small house or flat can be non-existent. Wastes must be stored outside in the garden or on the street, with much waste left at the curbside after missed collections.
Investment in facilities that may be used for just a few days each year are difficult to justify, though if climate change continues days may become weeks or even longer. Domestic producers may require bins or carts for the safe storage of individual waste containers, and it must be asked whether this might be required year-round to improve waste security and hygiene precautions.
Elsewhere, we must take care to manage spillages, with the likelihood of spilled waste items ‘lost’ in the snow only to appear later when the melt finally occurs. This is particularly so for discarded drug litter, that creates particular safety problems for those who may discover these hazardous wastes and those involved in its retrieval.