As Lewisville, Flower Mound residents stay home, Republic Services sees ‘uptick’ in recycling contamination, trash volume

Since more residents have started staying home in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Republic Services has seen a rise in recycling contamination. Above is a guide of what residents can and cannot recycle. (Chelsea Peters/Community Impact Newspaper)

Since more residents have started staying home in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Republic Services has seen a rise in recycling contamination. Above is a guide of what residents can and cannot recycle. (Chelsea Peters/Community Impact Newspaper)

Republic Services has reported seeing an uptick in recycling contamination and trash volume, as many residents are turning to activities like spring cleaning while they stay home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Republic Services Division Manager Robert Sloan said there has been a 20% increase in recycling contamination in recent weeks and a 10% increase in residential trash volume. The company picks up trash and recycling in Lewisville and Flower Mound.

"Contamination" in this context essentially refers to the presence of things that cannot be recycled, said Jeri Harwell, municipal services manager for Republic Services. For example, a batch of recycling could be contaminated if a jar of peanut butter with sticky remnants is added to it.

“We're deploying additional trucks in certain areas because of the increased volume,” Sloan said. “The biggest thing that residents can do for us if they're home and cleaning out their houses or cleaning out their garages or something is just to limit the amount that they're putting on the curb right now as much as possible. Put it out in segments rather than all at once.”

Residents can also help minimize the risk to sanitation workers by bagging all of their trash, including bulk and brush, Sloan said.


“It makes it a little bit safer for our employees to pick it up that way,” he said.

In an effort to protect sanitation workers from being exposed to COVID-19, all employees are wearing personal protective gear when they pick up trash, Sloan said. Ensuring that all trash is bagged will help minimize the number of surfaces workers have to touch, he added.

Harwell said the increase in recycling contamination is likely due to the fact that people are throwing trash in the recycling bins because their trash cans are filling up faster.

“Under the circumstances of what everybody's going through right now, an increase in volume is to be expected,” Harwell said. “This is not something that we're anticipating is going to last any longer than the current COVID-19 quarantine situation. But I don't know that any of us know what next week looks like, or the week after that. So, you know, we're just trying to communicate effectively what we need to help keep our employees safe.”
By Anna Herod
Anna Herod covers local government, education, business and the environment as the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Lewisville/Flower Mound/Highland Village edition. In the past, Anna served as the reporter for Community Impact's San Marcos/Buda/Kyle paper. Her bylines have appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, Hays Free Press and The Burleson Star. She is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


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