A new reality

Columns - EDITOR’S LETTER

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April 8, 2020

At the time of this writing on March 30, there have been 122,653 total cases of COVID-19 across the United States and 2,112 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By the time you read this, these numbers will be obsolete.

Such is the case with much related to this pandemic: Every hour seemingly brings new statistics, new regulations and new developments that are fundamentally changing the way we live and work.

Even though waste and environmental services operations have been deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, businesses haven’t been exempt from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Preliminary results from a Waste Today survey that was sent out to our readership on March 24 in attempts to gauge the impact of the virus show major interruptions to businesses.

Some of the highlights gleaned from early results show:

  • Over 29 percent of businesses have had to either close or temporarily idle one or more facilities,
  • Of those businesses that handle office- or retail-generated materials, 32.6 percent say the flow of inbound materials has been severely affected, 44.8 percent say it has been moderately affected, 14.2 percent say it has been minorly affected, and 8.1 percent say it has had no impact,
  • Of those businesses that handle residential materials, 28.8 percent say the flow of inbound materials has been severely affected, 27.1 percent say it has been moderately affected, 20.3 percent say it has been minorly affected, and 23.7 percent say it has had no impact,
  • Of those businesses that handle construction and demolition materials, 26.8 percent say the flow of inbound materials has been severely affected, 31.7 percent say it has been moderately affected, 29.2 percent say it has been minorly affected, and 12.1 percent say it has had no impact,
  • Over 42 percent of businesses have either had to lay off personnel or are considering doing so, and
  • Over 58 percent of businesses have had to delay capital expenditures because of the virus.

While this data shows that major disruptions have already been felt, one can assume these impacts will only be amplified as the virus spreads in scope and intensity.

Despite these challenges, some of the industry’s biggest players have stepped up to help serve the needs of their customers during these turbulent times. It’s definitely not business as usual for those in the waste management industry, but companies from coast to coast are doing what they can to serve clients in a shifting atmosphere that can best be described as the new normal.

Check out “The first days on the front lines” to see how the waste and environmental services industry has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.