Technological watch

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

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 , 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 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.

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.


Publication date: 20/05/2021


This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31