How COVID-19 Is Impacting The Waste & Recycling Industry

How COVID-19 Is Impacting The Waste & Recycling Industry


Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the United States, businesses and individuals throughout the country have been impacted by this pandemic in numerous ways. The waste and recycling industry’s essential role means that services will continue, but stakeholders are keeping a close eye on how to ensure the safety of businesses, waste workers, and communities at this time. We realize you probably have questions about this, so we created a blog post to address COVID-19's impact on the waste and recycling industry, how it may temporarily effect your waste and recycling services, and safety measures the industry is taking to keep businesses and workers safe. Continue reading for more details.

FLUCTUATION in volumes of waste and recycling

Throughout the country, restaurants, bars, hotels, schools, and office buildings have shut down or adjusted their operating hours due to social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders. As a result, commercial waste and recycling volumes have decreased significantly across many industries. While volumes have dropped in most cases, there has also been a significant increase in volumes increases at hospitals/healthcare facilities and residential real estate facilities. If your business needs to change service frequency as a result of fluctuating waste volumes, reach out to your service providers to request increases or decreases to your service levels. Doing so will ensure you don’t run into extra fees and charges on your waste bill. If you are a customer of RoadRunner, we encourage you to reach out to our account management team to discuss adjusting your service frequency to accommodate for the volume changes.

Safety measures waste workers are taking

As the pandemic continues to unfold, the waste and recycling industry is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and following the guidance of OSHA, the CDC, and other regulatory agencies. At this time, waste workers and businesses alike are encouraged to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus and maintain a healthy work environment. When it comes to COVID-19 medical waste, OSHA guidelines advise employees and waste workers to handle medical waste in accordance with routine procedures. Although regulatory agencies have not created new guidelines for handling COVID-19 medical waste, Stericycle reminds generators to carefully package waste to protect worker safety.

OSHA and the CDC also recommend that workers use safe work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as puncture-resistant gloves and face and eye protection, when dealing with commercial waste to prevent exposure to waste streams. In addition to the guidelines that waste workers are urged to follow, businesses can take the following actions to ensure waste workers can continue to work safely through the pandemic:

  • All trash should be double bagged or placed in durable bags unlikely to rip. Loose items may not be collected due to the CDC’s determination that the virus can persist on materials up to a day or longer.
  • All recyclable materials must be placed inside recycling containers (including cardboard). Recyclables outside of the bin may not be collected.

We're Here To Help

We understand that you may have questions or concerns about your waste and recycling services during this challenging time. If you do, we're here to help. Please feel free to reach out to one of our dedicated representatives with any questions, concerns, or service change requests here.


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