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Recycling & COVID-19

With regard to COVID-19, The Recycling Partnership is closely monitoring the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We’ll be sharing important updates via our social media channels, our City and County Recycling Coordinators Facebook Group, and this webpage.

Webinar: A COVID-19 Industry Update from The Recycling Partnership – Wednesday, May 27th – 2pmET – Watch the Recording

Spend 60 minutes with industry experts answering the important question: What are the on-the-ground impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis on recycling workers and operations? The supply chain and solid waste have both been deemed essential work in this time that the country is dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 on households and businesses.

Join Cody Marshall and Dylan de Thomas from The Recycling Partnership, along with the following industry leaders, to share updates, information and resources to help your community program be more resilient and impactful in these challenging times.

David Biderman, SWANA
Kate Davenport, Eureka Recycling
Colin Staub, Resource Recycling

We're Here For You

We recognize the past few weeks have created significant shifts and disruptions in how we approach our daily life and work, but we at The Recycling Partnership stand ready to help as we continue our commitment to transforming recycling for good.

If we can support in providing guidance to your local program when it comes to technology, communications, or other program needs, our team stands ready to assist – even if only to be a sounding board.

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Webinar: COVID-19 and its Effects on Recycling

On Tuesday, March 31, The Recycling Partnership hosted a webinar for cities, states and industry partners to provide timely and comprehensive information about the state of the recycling and solid waste industry during the times of COVID-19. We heard from the leading voices at our most trusted industry publications: Cole Rosengren, Senior Editor at Waste Dive, and Colin Staub, Senior Reporter at Resource Recycling, who provided an overview of the latest COVID-19 news as it relates to recycling and took questions from webinar participants.

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Top Five Takeaways from COVID-19 and its Effects on Recycling Webinar

  1. Recycling is an essential service. The federal government has officially recognized recycling as an essential service, matching what we already know from consumer research on the importance of recycling to all Americans. We strongly encourage local governments, material recovery facilities, and haulers to continue this essential service in a way that is safe for all involved. Preserving recycling is as much about preserving the economy as it is the environment. Businesses rely on the recyclables collected at curbside as their largest source for recycled content so they can remake them into new, safe products that support the U.S. health system and other critical supply chains, and as part of the circular economy.
  2. The well-being of our solid waste workers is more important now than ever. We recognize the critical role our nation’s hard-working solid waste and recycling professionals play. For guidance on keeping your solid waste staff safe while they provide this essential service, please refer to your local health department and to OSHA’s Guidance on Municipal Solid Waste. The Recycling Partnership will continue to share resources for programs to make their own informed decisions.
  3. The market shifts currently happening as a result of COVID-19 are significant and will have lasting effects as the world responds. As service providers and communities alike have been forced to temporarily suspend curbside recycling programs and amend drop-off program policies, supply for manufacturing feedstock from recyclable materials are becoming constrained. During this difficult time, we may see commercial volumes transitioning to the home and recycling volumes increasing at the household due to more people staying home. While supply and demand is rapidly shifting, any analysis right now is necessarily incomplete.

Which leads us to our next point…

  1. There are still a lot of questions. No one likes to say, “I don’t know.” But unfortunately, the questions we’re all asking are too important to guess on the answer. We are actively looking for more information on how the virus spreads, where and how it stays on certain surfaces, how stay-at-home orders are altering resident behavior, and how the markets will shift as a result of all these factors.
  2. We are all doing our best to get you those answers. Industry leaders are currently working tirelessly to provide their readers and members the most up-to-date, accurate information of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts the recycling industry:

COVID-19 Talking Points for Communities

More than 84% of Americans view recycling as a valuable public service. Our below talking points will help you keep your community updated as to how COVID-19 impacts the important services you provide.

We welcome and encourage you to share these on your website, social media, and other communication channels as they relate to your program. If you share via social media, be sure to use your community’s #hashtags as well as #COVID19 #RecyclingMatters.

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 channels) for your updated schedule.
  • At this time, we are (insert change here):
    • temporarily shortening our recycling drop-off hours from X to Y
    • temporarily closing our drop-off locations
    • temporarily suspending curbside recycling

Further Examples:

  • 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-off 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.

Helpful Hints:

  • Keep your information brief and to the point
  • Reassure your residents that the change is temporary
  • Reaffirm that all accepted materials have not changed
  • Be sure to communicate when services return to normal
  • Provide a website that hosts the most up-to-date info:
    • “Visit (insert link) to find a drop-off location near you.”
    • “Visit (insert link) for more information.”
    • “Visit (insert link) for scheduling changes and closures.”

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