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The UK continues to grapple with Covid-19 in the workplace, whether that’s reopening bars, restaurants and gyms, or adapting food manufacturing operational practices to fall in line with Covid-secure guidance.

With guidance and regulation dictated by central government, part of the responsibility for ensuring businesses are Covid-secure lies with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Following the government’s announcement on its return to work strategy in May, the HSE stated it had begun proactive inspections, and, in July, reiterated that “all sectors and businesses of all sizes are in scope for inspections” to ensure workplaces were Covid-secure.

GPT have put together some top tips on how to dispose of your personal or business waste, including face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), during the coronavirus pandemic.

All individuals should follow the simple guidelines to, remove PPE carefully, and avoid touching the inside of your face covering, after you remove your PPE or face covering, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. If you need to throw away used face coverings or PPE, such as gloves:

  • dispose of them in your ‘black bag’ waste bin at home or at work, or a litter bin if you’re outside
  • do not put them in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
  • take them home with you if there is no litter bin – do not drop them as litter
  • You do not need to: put them in an extra bag or store them for a time before throwing them away
  • You should wash and reuse cloth face coverings to prevent and reduce waste.

If you own a business  you can read further guidance for employers and businesses on working safely during coronavirus, here.

Business advice:

  • provide extra bins for your staff and customers to throw away their waste face coverings and PPE used for social distancing, and any other additional waste, such as takeaway packaging and disposable tableware
  • make sure that staff and customers do not put face coverings and PPE in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
  • make sure bins are emptied often so they do not overflow and create litter
  • You do not need to collect PPE separately but, if you do, you must describe and code your waste correctly.
  • Ask your waste contractor if there is anything else you need to do.

If your staff are using PPE at work to protect against risks other than coronavirus, they can throw it away in the usual way. You can put used disposable face coverings and PPE in an ‘offensive waste’ collection (yellow bags with a black stripe), if you have one.

You may be able to use specialist PPE recycling services for some items. Ask your waste contractor.

If you’re looking for new waste management services, speak to the GPT Waste team on 0844 854 5000.

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