The Impact of Staying at Home and Recycling
Many industries and businesses across the globe, including Brown County Resource Recovery, had to adjust when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. For Resource Recovery, adjustments we had to make dealt more with the amount and type of material coming into our facilities than any concerns about the material itself.
While the total amount of recycling coming into Brown County Resource Recovery facilities during the Safer at Home Order did not change much, what has been different is the type of materials coming in. Typically, a large percentage of the recycled materials comes from businesses which includes a lot of glass and cardboard. When the Safer at Home Order was put into place, many local businesses reduced production or temporarily shut down. With the reduction in materials coming in from businesses, residential recycling has gone up by nearly 17%. Residential recycling typically contains a greater mix of materials with less glass and cardboard and more plastics.
Fortunately for Brown County Resource Recovery, new equipment was installed in early May to replace equipment that was more than 10 years old making the process of sorting mixed materials, specifically aluminum and plastics, much more efficient. With the new equipment, the sorting process is quicker as well as safer for employees who have to do less sorting by hand saving on costs.
The mix of recycling isn’t the only change Resource Recovery has seen during the pandemic. On the waste side, the main change has been in the number of small, single load users at the Waste Transfer Station. Through the first five months of 2020, there has been a more than 15% increase in the number of customers bringing in garbage, but only a 3% increase in waste tonnage. With residents being at home, many cleaned out their garages, attics, closets and basements of unneeded materials and either donated them or brought them to the Waste Transfer or Recycling Transfer stations. The number of people using the recycling drop-off window each day at the Recycling Transfer Station has doubled over the last few months.
Fortunately, we have been able to handle the changes as we continue to serve the public. Like all businesses, we’ve not only made adjustments to our operations to accommodate the “new normal,” we’ve also instituted health and safety measures to keep employees and visitors safe. That is truly the most important thing during these times.