Waste Collection and Recycling Industries Deemed Essential Services
The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) has recently expressed their heartfelt thanks to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The assistance that they offered to NWRA has been appreciated and very much felt as the industry struggles to cope with and adjust to the new normal that COVID-19 has forced upon much of the world. The CISA was called out for recognizing solid waste collection workers as part of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and for pursuing action and legislation that helped protect the jobs of waste and recycling collection workers and those working the processing plants and centers across the country. This designation occurred after the NWRA sent an urgent letter to DHS Secretary Chad Wolf requesting that he take measures to ensure that classification went through.
Deemed As Essential
DHS designated the waste and recycling collection industry under its Public Works category and is focused on supporting measures to ensure that the continued effective removal, storage, and disposal of waste and hazardous waste and recycling materials be collected from residential and commercial sites with as little disruption as possible at this time.
DHS also has measures to protect the industry under its Transportation and Logistics category, where it makes special mention of the truck drivers, collectors, and processing plant workers who keep the flow of waste and recycling materials moving to reduce instances of delays, lapses, and backlogs in processing.
While most of the other industries that received the special essential designation and the professions that work those industries were grouped together on a single line in the legislation, that was not the case for waste collection and recycling services. It just goes to show how essential these services truly are to the health and safety of our nation that they received their own language in two separate sections of the bill.
Recognition Long Overdue
“This is a major win for the waste industry and for the advocacy program at NWRA. I am proud of my staff for remaining at their posts during this national crisis and providing support to our members," said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith in a statement. He went on to also say that the workers within the waste and recycling centers represent a critical industry that is indeed essential to the continued functioning of society, and NWRA staff has been working overtime to help secure this kind of ruling to protect these vital services. Smith and the entire NWRA team extended their thanks to DHS for recognizing what a truly vital and essential role they play in the smooth and safe operation of society.
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) also sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting that all recycling operations across the U.S. be designated “essential” to public health and welfare, as well as to the nation’s economic infrastructure. Official results of that request are still awaiting review and an official reaction at this time.