How the Coronavirus Has Impacted the Recycling Industry

by Global Trash Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses in all industries and market segments. One industry that has been significantly impacted by the virus is the recycling industry. Commercial recycling services have been impacted in various ways from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In many markets, recycling processes were scaled back or even suspended temporarily at the initial stages of COVID-19 last spring. Recycling was not deemed an essential service. Instead, recyclables went directly to landfills in many markets during this period.

In other markets, businesses were not required to sort recyclables and could just dispose of them alongside regular waste, in an attempt to lessen the spread of the virus by touch. Some trash haulers stopped sorting recyclables too. The recyclable materials were allowed to be mixed together to limit contact with these items.

Coronavirus protection equipment in medical waste bin

Now that businesses are reopened, and many more are resuming operations on some level, recycling services are beginning to resume as well, and on their way to bringing this industry back up to full speed.

Some key lessons that were learned during the shut-down period about recycling include:

1. Recycling is vital.

We are still realizing the full effects of closing recycling programs during the shutdown period. There are many businesses that rely on recyclables. Sadly, during the shutdown, recyclables ended up in regular waste collection and landfills.

Now, businesses that need those recyclables are finding it hard to meet demand since supply is nowhere near what it was pre-COVID. As result, the recycling industry is struggling to meet the demand of buyers. In turn, this is affecting the ability of buyers to produce their products, and it is causing other shortages downstream to their customers, their customers’ customers, and so on. Here this cycle that has been created by the halt to recycling earlier in quarantine, clearly illustrates how vital recycling and the business world’s participation in it are to society.

The volume of single-use plastics and paper products has increased tremendously during the virus. This will continue for the foreseeable future as disposable masks, gloves, food containers, individual packaging materials, etc. continue to be in high demand. Businesses of all sizes should strongly consider using this opportunity to develop a sturdy commercial waste and recycling program to ensure these products can be reclaimed and reused. While the option to do so was temporarily taken away from business owners, opting into recycling services as they resume will not only make for a greener business landscape but restart the supply chains currently still struggling from the past halt of recycling services.

2. Recycling centers are reopened and en route to resuming pre-COVID-19 operational levels.

Recycling centers have to take enhanced safety precautions just like other businesses. This has slowed reopening operations to 100% capacities. However, with the current state of the virus and lockdown measures, recycling services have started to pick back up at different speeds depending on markets and geographical locations.

Furthermore, businesses need to be reminded that now that recycling has resumed in their areas, they can and should readjust their commercial waste management plans. Unfortunately, many businesses have gotten used to just tossing all of these single-use plastics into their waste when recycling was not an option. As such, businesses need to be re-incentivized and re-organized to fit recycling goals.

How Resuming Recycling of Commercial Waste Benefits Businesses

As businesses resume recycling services and adjust their commercial waste management programs, they should not miss this opportunity to reorganize their waste management procedures cost-effectively. Businesses need to start by re-evaluating what types of waste they are generating to determine the current volume of recyclables.

Even though the recycling industry is not yet back to operating at 100%, it doesn’t mean that there are not buyers out there that need recyclables for their operations. The best way to navigate creating an effective, efficient, and sustainable recycling and waste management plan for your business is to get help from an experienced waste management consultant.

Smiling entrepreneur in apron near counter of his cafe using digital tablet and talking on smartphone

Your consultant will conduct an audit and review your current waste management program, identify key areas where you could reduce costs, and help you re-initiate the recycling of commercial waste at your business.

For example, one change they could recommend you make with your waste management processes is investing in a compactor or baler machine. Both types of equipment aid in recycling efforts, as well as reduce the number of trash pickups.

Are you ready to find out how you could save money, help ease the recycling industry back into full swing, and run your business more sustainably by focusing on your recycling and waste management plan? Request your free waste audit and discover how you could save 30-40% or more on your waste and recycling management costs by contacting Global Trash Solutions at 866-760-8194 to speak with one of our waste consultants today!

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