By Lethbridge Herald on April 2, 2020.
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is changing the way the City does its waste disposal business, says Waste and Recycling Services general manager Joel Sanchez.
“At this point all the curbside services we are providing to the community are remaining unaffected. But we have other programs we are now changing or limiting the capacity of these programs.”
This includes ending free Saturday drop-offs at the City’s landfill, and a reduction in publicly accessible hours.
“We want to remind residents only essential services is what we are providing,” he says. “We encourage them to only visit the site if they need it. We are asking residents if they only have one bag or two bags of materials, if they can keep those at home, that’s the preference.
“We have seen people going to the site only for one bag of garbage. I don’t know if it is to get out of the house or do a trip, but this is increasing the amount of people we have at (the Waste and Recycling Centre), and we want to avoid that, for sure.”
The landfill is maintaining winter hours for the foreseeable future, says Sanchez, which are Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. And for the time being, the site will not be accepting tires, batteries, oil, paint, propane tanks or other household hazardous waste. It will also not be accepting electronics and small appliances, scrap metal, large appliances or mattresses and furniture.
Any one needing special considerations or having any questions about what can or cannot be brought in should contact the City’s 311 Call Centre first.
“Waste is an essential service,” says Sanchez, “and what we are doing is trying to preserve all the workforce we have because we still need to go every day and collect garbage and recycling. We still need to do the processing at the landfill.”
Sanchez says recycling has also been deemed an essential service by the province for the time being, and the Materials Recovery Facility continues to operate with proper coronavirus safety protocols and equipment in place. Sanchez says despite strong economic headwinds facing markets due to COVID-19 recycled materials collected in Lethbridge are still moving well.
“Materials are still moving, and, at this point, the markets,” he says. “Believe it or not, the cardboard has been seeing an increase in the last month even with this current (COVID) condition … We are still seeing similar prices to what we were seeing before, but that can change, of course. We have people looking into that, and our contractor is actually one of the biggest contractors in North America; so they have larger volumes and methods to move the material.”
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