SWANA joined over 170 other organizations urging Congress to include direct relief to cities, towns, and villages in future federal assistance packages in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented coronavirus public health crisis has strained municipal budgets across the United States. This will, in turn, test their ability to provide essential services to communities and support local economic activity in these critical times.
Two City Councilmembers are pushing legislation that would create composting and electronics waste drop-off sites to compensate for recycling reductions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment (CORE) Act, the city would place three drop-off sites for organics and community recycling centers for hazardous or e-waste in each community district by June 2021. The 177 centers would be open 20 hours a week, at minimum.
EPA is encouraging all Americans to recycle materials from their households and properly dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially during the Coronavirus public health emergency. Recycling isn’t just good for the planet by reducing the amount of waste going to landfills and saving energy, it also supports American manufacturing.
In a letter sent to congressional leaders May 5, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) calls upon legislators to prioritize critical infrastructure industries, including waste and recycling, in the next COVID-19 relief package that Congress will take up soon. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) designated the waste collection industry as essential in March.
When stay-at-home orders shuttered offices across the U.S. last month, one industry was especially hard hit: toilet-paper makers. Just as consumer demand for their product surged during the lockdown, they lost access to the cheap recycled office paper that’s typically used to make toilet rolls. That induced some of the world's biggest makers to switch to pulp sourced directly from trees, adding significant costs and harming the environment.
It was one small example of the widespread disruption that the virus is causing for the recycling business, and thus for the entire economy.
In a win-win for sea animals and humans, a scuba diving group is turning plastic water bottles that once polluted oceans into face masks for people to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
The face masks are made by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), in partnership with Rash'R, a company that sells eco-friendly active wear. Each reusable mask costs $20.40 and comes with five replacement filters. The price reflects the cost it takes to make each mask, PADI says on its website.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global economy and disrupted the waste, plastic, and recycling industries. While waste management, plastics production, and recycling sectors at first glance appear only tangentially linked to essential services, they are intimately connected to a thriving economy and critical public health roles. The uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have caused significant limitations on recycling and municipal waste services in the U.S. and beyond.
Organics recyclers are facing tense times as measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 begin to impact community composting efforts. With many of these small-scale companies depending on universities and restaurants for a majority of their collection volumes, mass closings across the U.S. have left collection services in a tight spot.