The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) has partnered with the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) to conduct a survey to learn more about how the waste and recycling industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey was sent to a database of waste industry employees or an affiliates field, such as solid waste academia, and received nearly 400 responses. Of those responses, three-quarters included the following sectors: waste haulers, consulting firms, municipalities, government agencies and academic institutions.
For the survey, the respondents weighed in on topics such as short- and long-term impacts; employee safety and health concerns; operational best practices; changes in revenues, services, waste streams and waste volumes; and more.
According to the NWRA, the findings were similar to other industry surveys, with waste haulers being most affected, residential waste seeing the largest increase, staffing accounting for the greatest short-term impact and two-thirds of respondents facing moderate to severe operations impacts due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Deemed essential, waste and recycling workers and operators have taken the necessary actions to face new challenges head-on and continue operating in a safe manner,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith in a release. “In fact, two-thirds of survey respondents have implemented three or more measures to protect employees and customers, such as social distancing, working from home and implementing additional cleaning and sanitizing measures. These best practices, along with resiliency plans, are expected to remain in place as the nation begins to reopen and more employees head back to work.”
“While this is a novel virus, waste management entities have a long history of being safety-focused, and as a result have been well equipped to manage waste through the pandemic,” said EREF President and CEO Bryan Staley.