- in Environment
Staff at recycling sites in Greater Manchester face abuse – including threats to life and physical assault – on a daily basis, a BBC Radio Manchester investigation has found.
The attacks are so bad that some sites plan to employ security guards when new recycling rules come into force.
Suez, which runs the centres, said attacks happened “on a weekly, if not a daily basis” at some sites.
Most abuse comes from traders trying to dump waste illegally, workers said.
A Suez spokesman said staff safety was its “number one priority” and it took “a zero-tolerance approach” to the abuse of staff.
Suez operates 20 Household Waste Recycling Centres across Greater Manchester.
By law, traders and businesses, no matter how small, must pay for the disposal of their waste through licensed trade waste facilities. Staff at the household recycling centres are required to inspect what waste any suspected traders are bringing in.
Environment ‘I’ve been spat at’
In December, one site worker had his jaw broken in two places after being attacked for approaching someone he suspected of illegally disposing of trade waste.
One worker, who did not want to be identified, said: “I’ve been spat at a few times. I’ve been threatened with pieces of wood, metal bars. It’s always in the back of your mind, ‘are they going to pull a knife out on you?’.”
Another said: “Every day you’re expecting some sort of aggression or confrontation. I’ve heard of people being head butted, punched, verbal abuse, racism, there’s all sorts that goes on.”
From 10 February, vehicles using recycling centres across Greater Manchester will be monitored by registration plate recognition technology. The number of times householders can use the centres will be limited, depending on the size of your vehicle. For cars, it will be a maximum of 52 visits per year.
Councillor Andrew Western, from Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said the abuse faced by workers was “appalling”.
“This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated, with legal action enforced if needs be,” he said.
Unite regional officer Tanya Sweeney said the union welcomed the employment of security guards and the “commitment to making the working environment safer”.