The European Commission has published its guidelines to support Member States in waste management. Among its main recommendations, Europe suggests «that citizens separate their waste correctly and clean flows of recycled materials towards the treatment plants are guaranteed». Furthermore, citizens should be informed «of possible temporary modifications in waste collection practices that might impact on the way waste are delivered for collection and future treatment. If necessary, citizens should be reminded of the obligation not to throw away WEEE, batteries or chemicals together with unsorted waste».
Member States should guarantee that they put in place «an adequate planning activity of their treatment capacity and, if necessary, the storage of medical waste». In case of interruptions in waste treatment due to the lack of proper disposal or incineration capacity for sanitary waste, «it is paramount that waste are temporarily stored in a safe way until the problem of capacity is solved». Storage should contemplate «the use of sealed containers in safe areas, the access to which is granted to authorized personnel only. The internal and external areas of containers should be disinfected with proper disinfectant and containers should be stored locally».
If shortage of personnel causes a limitation of the service, «Member States should guarantee continuity and enough frequency in the collection of residual waste and biodegradable organic waste to avoid immediate risks». Based on an assessment of said risks, the frequency in the collection of recyclable dry materials might be temporarily regulated, «but not stopped». Some waste, whose collection points have been temporarily closed, can be delivered to these collection centres when they reopen, «in particular in the case of WEEE, batteries or bulky waste».
As regards the staff in charge of waste collection and management, good practices include the following: adapting staff organization to avoid the risk of infection between the various teams, i.e. respecting social distancing among people, reducing the number of workers present in the same area to the minimum, ensuring the availability and correct use of personal protection equipment (Ppe) and the right disinfectants; ensuring the strict compliance with improved hygienic standards, including the frequent change and cleaning of Ppe and professional clothing; replacing professional gloves if they break or in case of an accident causing the risk of a potential contamination; regularly disinfecting facilities, vehicles cabs and clothes; ensuring that strict protocols are in place on how to wear and remove Ppe, where masks are normally worn, so as to avoid accidental contact and contamination; and, finally, if appropriate, promote specific working conditions for vulnerable groups of the population, like elderly people or people with specific chronic conditions.