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Latest research says no significant risks in using kerbside containers

The latest body of research has suggested that there are no significant health and safety risks in using kerbside boxes to collect recyclables.

While previous Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) findings suggested that operatives are at risk from suffering musculoskeletal disorders when lifting heavy containers, a new report has found the opposite.

The study conducted by the Centre for Health and Environmental Research and Expertise (CHERE) concluded that there are no “significant risks within kerbside recycling operations using boxes and bags that could not be effectively managed and controlled.”

After analysing nine collection schemes across Wales, analysts believe the pool compares favourably with the HSL report which only looked at three schemes.

Wales Community Recycling Network (CYLCH) chief executive Mal Williams said: “The report puts another nail in the coffin for those advocating co-mingled collection in wheelie bins on health and safety grounds.

“It also paints a more balanced picture of potential risks as it assessed nine schemes in total- three times the number of operations observed by the much publicised HSL report earlier this year. There now seems to be nothing particularly wrong with using boxes or bags to collect recyclates.”

On the issue of assessing kerbside sorting systems against co-mingled collection systems, the report notes that a true picture of risks must involve both the collection and sorting process.

CYLCH workers’ safety advisor Des Bushell welcomed the CHERE report, and said: “For co-mingled collection, health and safety risks in a materials recovery facility also need assessing because by the time a vehicle operating a kerbside sorted system enters the depot, the materials are already sorted.

“We must compare health and safety issues to the same point in the materials recovery process to get the full picture. It is essential we compare like with like.”

The original report had created a large amount of debate, with operators suggesting that to replace all UK kerbside boxes with wheeled bins would cost more than £300 million.

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