Update April 1, 2020
Essential Services with Safety First
Waste and recycling collection services are regarded as essential services daily in communities, but now more than ever in the current climate. The safety and health of people working in the waste and recycling field is a priority Waste and recycling service providers are introducing additional measures to improve the protection of their employees including cleaning frequency of facilities, proper distancing between employees, and personal protection equipment. To support worker safety, communities are reinforcing preparation requirements to limit worker contact directly with collected materials.
Despite these measures and “shelter-in-place” requirements, service providers and community operated collection programs are experiencing worker shortage due to time off needed to recover from illness or to tend to family obligations (e.g., school and daycare closures).
With added necessary safety procedures and/or worker shortages, programs may be experiencing delays. Transparent and clear communication with community leaders, residents, and stakeholders regarding collection and processing statuses is key to creating understanding and cooperation during this time. Here are some suggestions developed by The Recycling Partnership:
If services are continuing as is:
- Recycling is important to our community and our planet. Despite the challenges our community, is presently facing, recycling is an essential service. We plan to continue our recycling service at this time.
- Since you may be spending more time at home, check-in on what is and what is not recyclable in your neighborhood. Check our website (insert link) for that information and to stay-up-to-date on the status of our service.
- Please make sure you are checking our social media feeds and our website for information on the status of your recycling service at this challenging time.
If there are scheduling changes:
- Recycling is important to our community and our planet. With our community’s current challenges, we have made the difficult decision to change our recycling service schedule. Please check our (website/other communication challenges) for your updated schedule.
- At this time, we are temporarily shortening our recycling drop-off hours from X to Y. Accepted materials have not changed. Visit (insert link) to find a drop-ff location near you.
- During this challenging time, our drop-off recycling locations are temporarily closed; however, our curbside recycling program will continue. Visit (insert link) to learn more.
Recycling is an Essential Business
During the outbreak of COVID-19 it is important to recognize recycling efforts as essential. Manufacturers have also shared the need for recovered material feedstocks to continue their manufacturing processes.
- ISRI stated in a recent letter to Vice President Pence, “…recycling operations are essential businesses, necessary for the continued supply of raw materials for U.S. manufacturing…” (Source: ISRI)
- Ron Gonen, Closed Loop Fund and former deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability in New York City stated in a recent Bloomberg article, “Continuing to recycle is an essential service – especially your cardboard and paper.” He added, “Life during a pandemic requires a lot of recycled paper and cardboard, which are remade into toilet paper and e-commerce delivery boxes, both under heavy use right now.” (Source: Bloomberg)
- Tori Beckett, Great Lakes Tissue, a Michigan toilet paper manufacturer, stated, “Recycling programs are extremely important for our facility. We user 100% recycled raw material to the tune of over 2,100 tons per month, with over half of that being directly from post-consumer recycling operations across the US and Canada. With all of the toilet paper shortages across the country, our operations are still at maximum capacity production and need all of the raw material we can get our hands on. We only keep a couple week’s supply on hand and if the collections stop we do fear we will not be able to keep a sustainable operation running.” (Source: MRC)
- Patrick McDonald, Sonoco, stated, “Continued operation of Sonoco Recycling’s plants is critical to the supply chain that delivers toilet tissue and paper towels to homes across North America–both critical needs during this battle against the Coronavirus. Our paper mills use fiber supplied by Sonoco’s recycling plants to produce the lightweight paperboard used to make the cores onto which tissue and towel producers wrap their products.” (Source: NC DENR)
- Thomas Syre, Strategic Materials, stated, “Strategic Materials is implementing new measures and continuing to expand on our response to the COVID19 pandemic at our operations and corporate level. Our North Carolina plants will operate without interruption until further notice or by direction from the State. Our primary partner is considered essential and manufactures glass containers used in food, medicine, and many other critical products. They depend on our cullet. A disruption to the glass supply chain into our NC plants will affect the products our essential partner can provide.” (Source: NC DENR)
- Roberto Fontanillas, Envision, stated, “The post-consumer plastic containers that we process are converted into raw materials used by many of our customers in packaging for food, cleaning supplies and wellness products, all of which are critical to the health, safety and security needs of consumers. As such, we play an important role in the supply chain, and we intend to maintain operations to keep our customers running so that they can manufacture packaging and products needed to keep our retailers stocked and our consumers supplied with the essential products they need to remain healthy and productive.” (Source: NC DENR)
- Paul England, Pratt, a major cardboard box manufacturer stated, “As a manufacturer of cardboard boxes that are in particularly high demand as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pratt depends on the essential services of Michigan’s recyclers and the recycled paper supply chain as we continue to manufacture and deliver needed products and packaging.” (Source: MRC)
- Doug Rahaim, Glass Recyclers, notes, “We provide a critical raw material feedstock to the glass container industry that manufactures food and beverage containers on a daily basis. Without the material that we manufacture, which is called cullet, the glass furnaces cannot operate. This would force a shutdown and very likely cause terminal failure in the glass furnaces in the plants that we supply.” (Source: MRC)
- Scott DeFife, Glass Packaging Institute, stated “A disruption to our industry will severely impact multiple industries and ultimately impair Americans’ ability to purchase food and beverages at their grocery store or similar outlet, at a time when those outlets remain critical to the food security of our nation.” (Source: GPI)
Below are some resources provided by organizations and industry leaders on the virus itself and operating during COVID-19 (alphabetical order).
- CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
- ISRI Impact on Recycling COVID-19: https://videos.isri.org/category/covid-19-impact-on-recycling
- NWRA COVID-19 Resources: https://wasterecycling.org/page/covid19resources
- NWRA COVID-19 Work Practices: https://wasterecycling.org/page/covid19workpractices
- OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html#solidwaste
- SWANA Guidance on Coronavirus: https://swana.org/initiatives/guidance-on-coronavirus-(covid-19)
- World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
Organizations should review all local, state, and federal instructions/mandates. The information provided here is not meant to be all inclusive or the source for policy or procedure compliance.
Update March 16, 2020
RRS Prepared to Support Clients Amid COVID-19
March 16, 2020, Ann Arbor, Mich. – Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) is assuring its staff, clients, and partners that the recycling and sustainability consulting firm is prepared to continue providing services during the COVID-19 outbreak.
RRS has been working as a distributed workforce for many years with staff members in 13 states and in four countries. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, staffers have had access to video conferencing, online file sharing, centralized client management system, and other technologies to ensure projects can carry on without interruption.
Out of an abundance of caution, RRS is taking the proactive step to close the physical office locations in Ann Arbor, Mich. and Boulder, Colo. All employees will be working from home office locations. With several states closing schools, the firm is also providing flex-time to all employees to better manage their current at-home situations.
At this time, RRS is suspending all non-essential air travel both domestically and internationally. Leadership is monitoring the continually evolving situation and making decisions and recommendations based on global and local health organizations.
The current situation may warrant a shift in priorities for some of our clientele, especially in the municipal government sector. RRS project managers are working with current clients and partners to continue an open dialog regarding project status, deadlines, and deliverables.
“The health and safety of our staff, partners, and clients is our top priority,” said Brianne Haven, vice president of operations at RRS. “We want to assure our clients that we will continue to provide research, analysis, planning, and communications that meet or exceed their expectations and our brand standards.”
Anyone with questions should contact the RRS project manager assigned to their project or contact email@example.com.