ISWA Reinforces Calls for Waste Collections to Continue as COVID-19 Restrictions Tighten

International Solid Waste Association Statement on Coronavirus Situation Globally

Regular waste collection services are a key-element for the quality of our urban lives. During the coronavirus crisis, our first target should be to ensure that waste collection will be continuously delivered all around our cities, without any disruption and without any discrimination based on income, religion, race or nationality.

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Regular waste collection services are a key-element for the quality of our urban lives. We understand how important they are only when we miss them.

During the coronavirus crisis, our first target should be to ensure that waste collection will be continuously delivered all around our cities, without any disruption and without any discrimination based on income, religion, race or nationality.

To achieve that, waste collection workers should be protected, as they are one of the most vulnerable parts of the population since they are already exposed in several health risks, including infections. Waste collection workers is the second most important human shield to coronavirus, after the health workers.

This is why waste workers have been granted ‘key worker’ status by the UK government, meaning they will continue to receive educational and care provision for their children during the current coronavirus crisis, so they will be able to continue their essential services. ISWA suggests that all governments should recognize the key-role of waste workers and the waste sector this period.

Consequently, the first priority is to make sure that collection workers will increase their protection from infections. This means that besides the measures that are taken for the whole population, we have to take care for the following:

  • Careful and continuous use of the relevant health & safety equipment  (gloves, masks etc.) – an important measure here is to make sure that the workers are removing masks and gloves without getting in contact with them, usually this means with the help of someone else. Protective equipment for eyes is also very useful for avoiding coronavirus infections.
  • Direct contact (without gloves) with bins or bags should be avoided in any case.
  • Uniforms should be daily changed - cleaning of work clothes and shoes is minimizing the possibility of dispersing the virus in the air – make sure you do not shake clothes – wash them at a temperature of at least 60 ° C with common detergents, add disinfectants if possible;
  • Put a disposable set of gloves, on a daily basis, in direct contact with your skin, before you wear your usual work gloves.
  • Make sure that there are disinfectants available in each and every vehicle. 
  • Frequent hand-washing and increased cleaning in workers’ facilities is a must
  • Drivers and collectors should avoid contact with residents and employees from the serviced business.
  • Sanitise and disinfect the driver's cab of vehicles destined for the collection of municipal waste after each work cycle, paying particular attention to the fabrics (e.g., seats) which can represent a site of greater persistence of the virus than the steering wheel, gearbox, etc., more easily sanitized. The vacuum cleaner must be used only after adequate disinfection. The use of disinfectants (e.g. at least 75% v / v alcohol) in a spray pack is recommended.
  • Social distancing practices should be applied at the headquarters, at meeting rooms as well as at changing rooms.

The second priority for any waste collection system is to develop contingency plans that will make sure that waste collection should be uninterrupted in any case, just to make sure that no extra health risks are added on top of the pandemics.

Contingency plans should involve alternative solutions for personnel, vehicles, infectious waste, accumulation of waste, washing, disinfection and street cleaning services. In almost all the countries affected in EU, municipalities and regional authorities are already elaborating contingency plans including partnerships between public and private sector.

ISWA suggests the immediate elaboration of contingency plans in each and every municipality affected by the pandemics. But, besides the extra measures that we have to take for collection workers, all the citizens have to receive and apply new instructions, so we will be able to contain coronavirus and not only. 

The second priority for any waste collection system is to develop contingency plans that will make sure that waste collection should be uninterrupted in any case, just to make sure that no extra health risks are added on top of the pandemics. Contingency plans should involve alternative solutions for personnel, vehicles, infectious waste, accumulation of waste, washing, disinfection and street cleaning services.

In almost all the countries affected in EU, municipalities and regional authorities are already elaborating contingency plans including partnerships between public and private sector. ISWA suggests the immediate elaboration of contingency plans in each and every municipality affected by the pandemics.

But, besides the extra measures that we have to take for collection workers, all the citizens have to receive and apply new instructions, so we will be able to contain coronavirus and not only. 

VIDEOS
As the coronavirus crisis continues to spread, creating hundreds of thousands of infections and thousands of fatalities, ISWA considers that waste management during this crisis is a key-element that contributes to overall public health protection.

For that reason, we will develop and circulate several videos and resources that will make sure that all our members and the hundreds of thousands of waste professionals that follow us will have a state-of-the-art information about waste management operations during the COVID-19 pandemics. 

The first video in the series and deals with waste workers, the most valuable part for delivering waste management services without any interruption. The video describes the health and safety measures that waste workers should apply, without any exception. These measures are always important, but they are becoming vital this period. The second video will describe what the citizens should do to protect waste workers and minimize the possibilities to spread the infections. Watch it below

https://youtu.be/Imv9J-RWZ0M