WRAP Cymru study shows that noise from glass collections may pose risks to recycling workforce

20 May 2021

Workers who carry out collections of kerbside glass for recycling can be exposed to high levels of noise, a new report has found. Some of these noise levels could be breaching the Control of Noise at Work Regulations.

The report, published by WRAP Cymru Collaborative Change Programme, brings together the results of surveys of a range of kerbside collection systems carried out since 2016. It includes different vehicle types to gauge levels of noise that workers were typically exposed to. The report, which builds on earlier research completed in 2012, found that while all recycling collection systems and vehicles have the potential to generate noise, in some cases they have the potential to go over the levels set in the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

Carl Nichols, Head of WRAP Cymru, “The work we’ve undertaken includes surveys across England and Wales, and will be important to local authorities across the UK as these show the spectrum of noise that workers may be exposed to during their working day, potentially at levels above those set in regulation. We advise all local authorities to take a careful look at the services they provide and ensure a working environment that minimises noise exposure to their workers.”

The report found that levels of noise differed depending on the amount of glass collected on each collection round. Workers on rounds where less glass was collected experienced lower levels of noise exposure. The report sets out estimated noise exposure levels for a range of different numbers of loading events in recognition that the number of glass collections made will vary from round to round and by service type.

The report also reveals that practical noise reduction measures can be taken to offer tangible protection to workers.

WRAP Cymru found potential for excessive noise exposure across a wide range of vehicles and collection systems. It recommends that further work is carried out on vehicle design and noise reduction methods. In line with the hierarchy of risk controls, eliminating the risk to workers should be the primary control. WRAP Cymru recommends that local authorities carry out tailored assessments to check the specific levels of noise that their workers are exposed to on collection rounds. WRAP is continuing to work with the WISH (Waste Industry Safety and Health) forum take the issue of noise from kerbside recycling collections forwards.


Notes to Editor

  • Noise exposure in glass recycling collection
  • Surveys were carried out across 19 different recycling collection vehicles and collection systems. There was variation in the results, due to different collection vehicles, collection configurations and the amount of glass in each collection.
  • WRAP is a global NGO based in the UK. It is one of the UK’s top 5 environmental charities and works with governments, businesses and individuals to ensure that the world’s natural resources are used sustainably. It is the charity leading The UK Plastics Pact (a world first) as well as Love Food Hate Waste, the Courtauld Commitment, the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, Textiles 2030 and Recycle Now. WRAP works collaboratively and develops and delivers evidence-based, impactful solutions to reduce the environmental cost of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the plastic packaging we use. Founded in 2000 in the UK, WRAP now works around the world and is a Global Alliance Partner of The Royal Foundation’s Earthshot Prize.        
  • Read Our Plan for a Sustainable Planet. Follow our citizen campaigns on Instagram: Love Food Hate Waste @lfhw_uk Recycle Now @recyclenow_uk Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date @OutOfDateUK Wales Recycles @WalesRecycles Clear on Plastics @ClearOnPlastics Love Your Clothes @LoveYourClothes_UK 

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