Earth Day is upon us! We have been celebrating this day for 50 years now. With the COVID19 pandemic shutting many industries down temporarily, we are seeing Mother Nature heal in ways the modern world has not seen in decades.
It feels an appropriate day to talk about the impact on recycling and the circular economy.
It seems there is no industry that has remained untouched by the recent pandemic of COVID19. As plastic recyclers, one industry of great interest to us is the waste management sector. It has been refreshing to note how townships, municipalities, and provinces have expressed their growing concerns and mitigated actions to protect our essential service workers. While many individuals are able to work remotely, the waste management sector has had to make necessary changes to minimize the exposure of potentially toxic waste to employees.
A spokesperson from the National Council for Occupational Health and Safety spoke to the safety of front line workers, stating that they “need to be protected in order to protect the community”. Nothing could be further from the truth. What are the truths about COVID19 and it’s expected survival rates on surfaces? Truth be told, as it is so new, we don’t know the long term contamination rates. Reports have come in from multiple resources, giving us facts from reliable and speculated sources. The ultimate issue is time, and multiple surfaces that are effected differently with this virus.
The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that the virus can be found on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours. Copper and cardboard measured much lower, in the area of 4 – 8 hours. It is likely that you have read that COVID-19 was found on cruise ships 17 days after they had been abandoned. This leads many of us to question what they actual timelines are. The best information that we can follow right now are based on research by the CDC, and the Department of Homeland Security. If your local government releases updated information, it is wise to abide by the recommendations provided.
Many recycling facilities have closed services to the public, including E-waste, tires, appliances, and furniture items. These measures have been taken to reduce the exposure to city workers, and to allow the virus to die off in the meantime.
On March 18, the Department of Homeland Security deemed garbage and recycling services an essential service. We can appreciate this for the health of citizens, as surmounting waste would pose an additional health threat. As far as recycling is concerned, waste materials play an important role in the upstream production of goods. We know that manufacturing must continue in order for our society to thrive; we need goods in the coming months, and a shortage would create difficulties for our economy and citizens.
States have noticed a rise in collection at many homes as individuals who have been laid off have had the opportunity for a spring clean. Green bin collection has also indicated that there is an increase, likely due to so many people cooking at home. So what can we do to help protect those in waste management?
-Minimize the amount of collection you put out to assist waste management workers in continuing their regularly scheduled pick ups.
-Clean and disinfect surfaces that others may come in to contact with.
-Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as often as possible.
-Maintain a 6 foot distance between yourself and city service workers. Better yet, stay inside until they leave the your area of residence.
-Continue to stay at home as often as possible to reduce your exposure to those who are potentially infected.
-Sanitize your bins once they are returned to your curbside.
-Continue recycling to assist with the circular economy.
At Omachron, we continue to make post-consumer finished goods with our recycled materials. The melting point for our plastics is xx degrees. It has been noted that most bacteria dies at a temperature of 140 degrees fahrenheit. Forbes reporter Rob Kaplan stated, “Because plastic waste is going to increase, now potentially at an even more rapid pace, we need to find ways for those on the front lines of this challenge – small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in our recycling and waste management sectors – to make money from this waste so it becomes a resource and not a scourge.”
While our primary focus has shifted in this climate to producing masks for the public, and health care workers, we are committed to continuing to ship items in a timely manner. If you have a custom request, please message our customer service team via our website, or call us at 1-833-725-6257.
What is your company doing to increase the circular economy in the midst of the pandemic? Do you have any suggestions to assist in protecting front line workers? Let us know!