In the US, over 170 organisations, including the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and Waste Management, have signed an open letter urging Congress to include direct relief to cities, towns, and villages in future federal assistance packages in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SWANA explained that the unprecedented coronavirus public health crisis has strained municipal budgets across the United States. This in turn is testing their ability to provide essential services to communities and support local economic activity in these critical times.
In response to these challenges, SWANA and others have requested that Congressional leadership support legislation that would provide $500 billion of federal aid over two years to local governments.
The organisation argued that these funds should be fairly and directly allocated without exclusions based on population and should provide equal funding overall for both municipal and county governments. Due to the extent and the complexity of the situation, maximum flexibility should be provided for the eligible use of the funds to address the budget consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Municipal governments are incurring increased expenses and are taking in less revenue due to the pandemic, and this can be expected to continue for several years,” stated David Biderman, SWANA’s Executive Director and CEO.
“This puts essential services that millions of Americans depend on every day at risk, including police, fire protection, and sanitation services. SWANA urges Congress to provide support to cities and other local governmental entities,” he concluded.
SWANA added that it continues to advocate for the solid waste industry as it provides an essential service during the pandemic and beyond. This includes requesting federal investment in recycling infrastructure, urging priority COVID-19 testing for essential workers, and working with FEMA to consider compensation for providing essential collection and disposal services that may otherwise go unfunded.
SWANA: Waste Industry Must be Included in Coronavirus Emergency Response
SWANA has reminded US Governors, Mayors and other elected officials and leaders that solid waste management is an essential public service and should be exempted from quarantines in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.