Idaho Landfill, Transfer Station Visits Up During Stay-At-Home Order
As most of us have been spending more time at home, the amount of waste we’ve been taking to the curb has increased, too. Trucks picking up our trash, recycling and compostable materials have been arriving in some neighborhoods an hour earlier than residents might be used to.
Rachele Klein with Republic Services says in order to abide by social distancing rules, they had to spread the drivers leaving the facility each morning across a longer period of time.
"They have to meet with their supervisor and do their pre-truck inspection," she said. "In order to comply with that, we started staggering start times for residential services out at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m.”
Those times are only temporary.
While trash haulers have seen an uptick in residential trash, it's been balanced out by the decrease in commercial waste. Overall, trash volumes are up, but only slightly.
Most noticeably, operators have seen a 20 to 25% jump in the number of in-person visits to local transfer stations.
"We’re seeing a lot of traffic, but not necessarily a lot of waste. It might just be an outing for people,” Klein said.
Large-item pickup has been suspended, compost pick-up, glass collection and hazardous waste drop-off sites have shut down as well. Republic has also implemented safety protocols at its transfer stations to minimize human interaction.
The landfill, operated by Ada County, has taken things one step further, according to Assistant Deputy Director of Solid Waste Theresa Rademacher.
“We’re operating two scalehouse operators remotely: they’re both at home and interacting with customers here at the landfill.” Rademacher says there were a few technical glitches at first, but the system runs smoothly now.
"So far, it's working really well. Both [our operators] are considering requesting it full-time," Rademacher said. "I don't know if we're going to go that far with it, but we really do enjoy it."
Local second-hand stores are also closed, and waste handlers have noticed an uptick in recyclables in the trash stream.
Both Klein and Rademacher noted that people should still make every effort to recycle, even if a trip to the dump is the easiest option.
"If they can recycle it, it’s what they should be doing," Rademacher said. "Making sure they're still doing their due diligence and preserving space in the landfill.”
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