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In order to cope with the growing piles of trash, local governments in Delmarva have encouraged residents to recycle, which reduces the amount of space required at landfills, preserves natural resources, and diminishes the amount of air and water pollution. Regrettably, meeting recycling objectives will be a lot more difficult during the coronavirus pandemic. In Wicomico County, curbside recycling pickup has come to a standstill and has not yet been resumed due to concerns over workers coming in contact with contaminated waste, among other things. Curbside recycling pickup implies sorting by hand and there is no way of knowing how the virus spreads from one surface to the other. Hence, to avoid community spread, nearly all operations have come to a temporary halt.
People are advised to hold onto their recyclables until the service can be resumed or to dispose of them at drop-off locations nearby. Nevertheless, the recyclable items deposited at the drop-off locations will not be taken care of immediately. The focus now is to decrease person-to-person interactions while directly maneuvering recyclables following multiple cases of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland. The situation is not a desirable one for Wicomico County, which prides itself on high recycling rates. Workers have received face coverings, gloves, and hand sanitizers, yet safety concerns still linger on and they spark operational challenges.
Numerous counties have witnessed significant increases in residential waste as citizens are sheltering in place, getting more deliveries, and working from the comfort of their homes. Recycling has been promoted owing to the fact that it makes a difference in protecting the environment. The rapid escalation of COVID-19 in the area is affecting recycling programs even if the companies engaged in recycling processing are not subject to forced shutdowns. Under the new rules, all curbside recycling operations have ceased, except for cardboard. Cardboard recycling entities are largely deemed essential, enabling the continual operation of recycling services.
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The aim is to remove waste from the streets as quickly and safely as possible. Cardboard is being processed because it does not require too much sorting. The cardboard is baled and sent to a specialized facility where it is shredded to pieces and broken down into fibers. Speaking of which, cardboard balers are highly versatile and offer a cheaper alternative to waste handling. The question now is: what type of cardboard should be placed in a baler for recycling? This guide explains the difference. After having been rolled out and dried, the fibers are deployed to make new products. People should not get out of the habit of recycling, especially during these difficult times.
Cardboard balers are still selling, which proves that companies do not hesitate to invest in their infrastructure. Cardboard recycling is an essential service during these times, as more material is required to manufacture cardboard boxes for deliveries and packaging. The few facilities that are currently functioning are taking precautions so as to remain active and, most importantly, they are urging the members of the local community to keep on recycling. If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it is the importance of recycling and the supply chain. A full commitment is necessary to keep things going.
Wicomico County residents are encouraged to take precautions and exercise proper social distancing in light of the pandemic. The new social distancing norm has led to a spike in online shopping. People are buying impressive amounts of goods, which come with unnecessary packaging. Web-based shopping puts an additional burden on the environment. If people were more mindful when it comes down to separating waste, it would not be such a big issue. The efforts of local authorities would be sustained and it would even be possible to meet ambitious recycling objectives on time. For the time being, there is no way of knowing for sure if people will recycle more or less during the pandemic.
What matters is that recycling facilities and recyclers operate with success. In that respect, it would be helpful to:
It is of paramount importance to acknowledge the fact that we are living a new and unfamiliar reality. More exactly, a great many restrictions and rules have been imposed upon us. Recycling and sustainable initiatives have been affected as priorities have changed. Nevertheless, some people are making tremendous efforts to minimize their waste and make sustainable decisions as they respect social distancing rules. They can serve as examples for others.
The current conditions may indeed make recycling more difficult in Maryland, but not impossible. Local authorities should seek to maintain recycling practices so that their residents are able to adequately dispose of waste. The waste industry is essential to the US during the coronavirus outbreak, as it would be a disaster to have the waste pile up in the homes and in the streets. From wearing PPE equipment to deploying the right sanitation products, workers can stay safe on the job. The CDC has not yet issued official guidelines regarding the handling of waste and recyclable materials, meaning that it is necessary for local authorities to decide what is best. The NWRA’s guidance could serve as an example.