Countries, states/provinces, and cities should ensure that the pandemic effect on waste management, recycling systems, treatment, and disposal facilities are not disturbed and does not cause any risk to human health.
Waste management and the pandemic saga
- Waste management is among the major sanitary-walls to treat and prevent and disease transmission and in the present situation of pandemic effect on waste management, it is important to note that waste service continuity is not only for municipal waste but also for potentially hazardous and health-care waste.
- In a sponsored online series presented by the Recycling Industry, Waste Management, and Waste Connections, the first and third-largest total revenue haulers in the US, shared their thoughts this week at the meeting of ‘The New standard’. Brent Bell, vice president of waste management recycling, and Dan Kurtz, director of waste connections recycling, took the session. Resource recycling Editor Dan Leif coordinated the meeting.
- Bell highlighted that “Curbside recycling degradation has plummeted from a high of 25% in 2018 and is presently below 20% to some extent. Besides, the Company aims to place a reusable glove for the staff and train them to effectively dispose of the gloves as well.
- With the partial relaxation of single-use plastic restrictions, both corporate leaders said they haven’t seen a massive upswing in certain products that destroy the recycling process. Since people have started consuming beverages and drinks at home, a significant spike in glass in the stream can be seen due to the shutdown of bars and pubs.
- In the recycling sector, Waste Management noted its commercial volumes decline by around 25%, Bell said. From a residential perspective, transactions have increased per household since people work from home and adopted E-commerce for purchasing.
- The pandemic also hit recycling-related costs, notably those resulting from unexpected network outages and other process activities. “We’ve decided to push the processing-fee-first program concerning contracts,” Bell conveyed. Municipalities have a fixed amount of processing which they pay to the MRF operator and when commodity prices are greater than the processing fee, the excess funds are remitted to the municipality. Kurtz emphasized on working with municipalities without relying on product values to run MRF. He added that COVID-19 could impact future contracts for any unpredictable pandemic situations. Bell said the pandemic effect on waste management has underscored the relevance of recycling.
Waste management milieus
- During a pandemic, the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) has recommended three overall priorities for waste management viz. ensuring the continuity of the services, adjusting recycling services, and ensuring safe collection, disposal, and treatment of healthcare waste.
- Contextually, these priorities have to be orchestrated as a whole to prevent any potential infection by the waste streams, avoiding cross-contamination, and ensuring safe disposal of healthcare and medical waste.
At a time when pandemic has thrown new challenges before the world, the gravity of environmental damage can be mitigated by efficient and workable waste management policies.
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