July 18, 2020 — One of the unanticipated results of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major increase in the creation of household waste. This is due in large part to the Shelter-in-Place Executive Order issued by Oregon Governor Kate Brown at the end of March, and her subsequent orders which have forced families to modify the way they shop and eat.
Families and individuals are now purchasing more items from grocery stores to eat at home and they are taking advantage of take-out menus from favorite restaurants — which are more common than previously, and increasingly the only option available to diners.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of the associated increase in waste products is plastic.
The limitations placed on dining at restaurants has led to a major jump in the usage of plastic to-go containers and plastic to-go bags. Most of these are not recyclable and end up in the landfill.
Recent legislative restrictions on the use of plastic bags have been suspended locally during the pandemic and single-use plastic bags have reappeared in most retail settings.
Much of the plastic used to package products purchased from retail outlets can be recycled and, fortunately, Florence has one of the state’s most robust Master Recycler Programs.
In addition to increased plastic usage resulting from increased to-go food and grocery purchases, there are also the newly added waste materials from the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE’s) used by medical staff at hospitals and clinics, which have added a level of danger to the recycling process.
In response to the significant increase in plastic waste, Florence Master Recyclers has announced it will be sponsoring a COVID-aware plastic pick-up plan.
The newly formulated plan will allow interested residents to recycle #2, #4, #5, plastic tubs, bottles, jugs and lids by scheduling a pick-up time for the safe collection of plastic recyclables.
“In these Covid times, it is crucial that the plastics we receive are extremely clean and organized. We appreciate all the effort everyone puts into collecting, sorting and cleaning the plastics so we can accurately and safely deliver the plastics to Lane County Waste Management,” said Nancy Rhodes, Master Recycler and co-coordinator of the event. “Your plastics must be clean, dry and label free. It must be sorted by number in separate clean paper or plastic bags and, to ensure the safety of everyone involved, masks will be required and social distancing will be practiced. “
The Florence Master Recyclers will be working to collect the plastic from local residents up until the co-coordinator for the collection, Britte Kirsch, delivers the collected items to the Glenwood Transfer Station on July 27.
There are the usual restrictions as to what can be recycled and the manner in which plastic can be collected for this trip to Glenwood, but the need to pay close attention to the plastic crisis — while still deep in the battle against the COVID-19 virus — is a task Kirsch is determined to continue.
“If this collection is successful this month, we will do additional regular collections to accommodate the needs of the Florence community,” said Kirsch. “We look forward to working with all of the ardent Florence recyclers again
“Plastic pollution doesn’t stop during a pandemic and now more than ever it is imperative that we continue to do our part to keep plastics out of our landfill.” added Kirsch.
To schedule a pick-up appointment at your home or a designated outside location, contact Britte Kirsch by Friday, July 24, at [email protected] or by calling 435-729-0554.