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Greater Saint John suspends recycling because of worker safety concerns
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Waste collection is one careers that has become much more complicated in the era of COVID-19, with worker safety becoming a serious concern.
Landfills are trying to navigate this new landscape and make sure staff is well protected.
Because of the possibility of coming into contact with contaminated items, Brenda MacCallum of the Fundy Regional Service Commission says they are doing things differently.
"Things have changed quite a bit here," MacCallum said from Grand Bay-Westfield, N.B.
One of the changes in the Greater Saint John Region is the indefinite closure of the blue recycling bins.
While the collection of compost and curbside recycling continues, all of the material will end up going to the landfill, said Chris Harned, the operations supervisor at the Fundy Regional Service Commission.
"It's because of the handling and the physical handling," Harned said. "A lot of people don't realize that when the recyclables come in and the compost as well, the organics, we have belts that that has to get across where there's actually staff that has to intermingle with that waste."
MacCallum said it was a hard decision.
"We also felt that to ensure the safety of our own staff, that was the first thing we had to consider," MacCallum said.
The staff has also been put into two rotating shifts so only one team is on site at a time.
The landfill has also made the decision to close on Saturdays to limit face-to-face visits at the public drop-off.
"The stories that we're hearing, that COVID-19 can stay up to three days on porous plastics, 24 hours onto cardboard, and even with the strict PPE requirements in place with our staff, we just don't want to take any of the chances with our staff at this time," Harned said.
Until the pandemic passes, the City of Saint John reminds residents to properly bag and seal their garbage before placing at the curb.