Cities Struggle With Garbage Overload During Pandemic
Piles of trash on the curb and the summer sun it's a distinct odor and in some cities, the problem is getting worse during the pandemic trash has been stacking faster than usual the Wall Street Journal Scott Calvert has been looking into it and he joins us now. Hey, there Scott I'm mark. How are you doing? Well, let's first talk about the size and the scope of this problem. How much extra trash are we talking about and is this happening in big cities? Small cities? Where's the issue? Sure. So it really happening all over the place big cities, small cities, and the scale really varies. I mean I'm in Baltimore and in July for example, the city picked up fifty. percent more trash in terms of tonnage compared to July of two, thousand nineteen. So that's a huge increase and I think a lot of cities are are seeing pretty big jumps compared to what they're used to, and it's sort of obvious why? Because you know since the pandemic began in March people have been staying home and when you're at home, you're generating a lot of trash tracks. It might have otherwise generated at the office is now coming out of people's homes. It's one of those issues you may not think of instinctively what is the challenge here? Why is it such a challenge? Wise it's such a struggle to haul away the trash why I think it'll be a challenge. Even if the only issue they had was this increased tonnage to deal with the increased volume, but it's actually a double whammy not only do they have more trash to Holloway, but they have fewer sanitation workers to do the work in a lot of these cities, and the issue is that you have a lot of sanitation workers who have come down with the coronavirus or they're quarantining because they've been possibly exposed or some people are simply afraid to come to work, and so the absenteeism essentially is people being out sick is higher than usual. So it's really a double hit more trash fewer workers, haul it away and not only is this an issue of cleanliness and sanitation I. mean, it really underscores the importance of essential workers during the time such as pandemic. That's right. I mean I, think this is one of those areas that people may take for granted. You know you put the trash out on the appoint today and they come and they take it away and you bring the trash can back in and you do it again the next week. So I spoke to to Joan she's a sanitation supervisor in Philadelphia. She's been with the city for thirty three years and you know she takes a lot of pride in the job and she says, she understands the frustration on the part of residents because you know people expect that trash will be picked up. Today and but she said it's too. It's frustrating for them that they that they can't quite deliver. But she said, you know at some point, their bodies have to shutdown, take a breather and then get back up is how she put it. So they're they're doing their best but a lot of people are also scared of the virus worried that they might bring it home to their families. So there's a lot going on for these workers and you know to hear her talent they really are doing their best under extremely difficult circumstances. I think we've all been in our own neighborhood and we see some litter here and they're willing to pick it up. Our community groups or neighborhood associations or even just individuals. Are they doing their part to try to the trash away? If that's even a possibility I don't think there's a lot of that but we definitely found instances where that had been happening. So I talked to the President of a Neighborhood Association in South Philadelphia and on two occasions so far they have rented pick-up trucks and gone around and take in. The trash that should have been hauled away by the municipal sanitation workers and taken that to a city facility basically taking matters into their own hands because they're not sure when it's going to get picked up and the longer it stays out on the street you know the smellier it is the more likely. You are going to attract rodents, things like that. Scott Calvert, thanks for bringing this to light. Thanks for having. Me Mark.