Recycling and Refuse During COVID-19


Oregon’s Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) thanks refuse and recycling works for helping Oregonians avoid waste during the global pandemic

STATEWIDE – Last year alone, people in Oregon generated 5,652,826 tons of waste – about 7 pounds of waste per person per day. As businesses have shuttered, there has been a sharp drop in waste from the commercial sector, but households continue to generate waste as people are eating and shopping more from the comforts of their homes.

While much has changed since COVID-19 pandemic began, buying stuff and creating waste hasn’t changed. If anything, online purchases have increased, creating a bastion of potential waste. But not all of it has to end up in a landfill. Even as people across Oregon have been asked to stay home, the consistent collection and transportation of solid waste, recycling, and organic materials have allowed households and neighborhoods to avoid additional health and safety issues during these already challenging times. 

“From Manzanita to Enterprise, and from Burns over to Brookings, the consistent service provided to residents and business during these uncertain times has helped to support the health and well-being of communities across the state,” says Lydia Emer, DEQ’s Land Quality Administrator. “We’re grateful to these essential workers who are often working tirelessly behind the scenes.”

“The tireless efforts of collectors, transfer station workers, and material process facility staff have allowed the solid waste and recycling systems within Oregon to remain in operation and promote the proper disposal and recovery of materials throughout all corners of the state,” Emer says.

How can community members help these essential workers?

Don’t take waste and recyclable collection for granted! To protect the environment, reduce waste, and make waste collection easier for essential workers, it’s important to learn how to recycle right. Here are some special considerations for Oregon households during COVID-19.

About Author

Julie Miller is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator at the DEQ Materials Management Program

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