By Finn Digman, Waste Reduction Education Coordinator for Asheville Greenworks
For the evolving situation around COVID-19, trash, recycling, and compost collection remain vital to the ongoing health of our area. Can you imagine what our homes would look like without these services? Do you want to?
So, let’s take a moment to consider the health implications of working in sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thankfully, the City of Asheville’s trash and recycling services are occurring as scheduled. The City is taking measures to ensure their workers’ safety. You can read more about these measures in Asheville Greenworks’ post about brush collection and in our upcoming 15-minute Reader: COVID-19 and Sanitation Workers: What We’re Doing to Help.
Continuing these vital services means employees for the City, CompostNow, and Curbie are more at risk when coming into contact with our waste. In the time of COVID-19, the potential for contact holds some obvious health implications, and we want to help keep workers safe.
Are you with us?
Here’s what you can do to help.
Wash your hands frequently and properly. During the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping your hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading. You should always wash your hands after handling waste or touching waste receptacles. For more information on proper handwashing, follow this link.
Wipe down cart lids and handles with disinfectant. Most carts are collected with a touchless, automated truck. However, at times, waste collectors must touch carts to properly get the waste into trucks. Wiping down your lids and handles reduces the potential risk of exposure for everyone.
All trash must be bagged and bags must be tied. Your green City carts contain trash destined for the landfill. By bagging your trash, you reduce the potential exposure for trash collectors and workers at the landfill. Tightly bagged trash also minimizes loose litter, so it won’t go flying through your neighborhood.
Sign up for AVL Collects. Follow this link to sign up for weekly collection reminders and information about service delays or cancellation notices.
Do not bag your recycling. Processors at Curbie are required to manually open recycling in bags in order to sort it. Eliminate this risk factor by filling your blue City carts with loose recyclables.
Recycle right. Minimize contact for recycling processors by ensuring you are disposing of acceptable recyclables. Generally, glass and plastic jugs, tubs, bottles, and jars are welcome. Follow this link for a comprehensive list of everything Curbie accepts. And remember: When in doubt, throw it out.
Never recycle medical waste. Medical masks, gloves, and needles are not recyclable and pose a serious risk to workers who are not trained to handle them. For more information on medical disposal follow this link to Buncombe County’s Harm Reduction page.
Wipe down your compost bins before setting them out. CompostNow is working hard to ensure the safety of its employees. Help them by disinfecting surfaces workers must touch.
Put all your compost in the bin and secure the lid. CompostNow cannot accept extra compostables left beside their bins. You can request additional bins here.
Skip service if you are experiencing symptoms. By skipping service for at least two weeks after you begin experiencing symptoms, you can reduce the risk of exposure to CompostNow employees.
Brush can be composted in your yard. For more information about managing your yard waste, go to this Asheville Greenworks’ post.
We are grateful for our dedicated sanitation workers and the services they offer. In this time of social isolation, social responsibility means protecting the essential employees that keep our society functioning. You can do your part by following the instructions above, as well as adhering to the CDC’s recommendations.
Be safe out there, and stay tuned for more great content from Asheville Greenworks.
This article is written for the residents of the City of Asheville in partnership with the City of Asheville.