Baltimore Suspends Recycling Pickup Due to Coronavirus Trash Backlog

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“We’ve reached our breaking point,” Acting Director Matthew W. Garbark said during a press conference, according to CBS Baltimore.

The report continued:

By cancelling curbside recycling pickup, DPW officials say their employees and contractors can focus on trash pick up. The coronavirus pandemic has increased the amount of residential trash in the city, officials said, as well as leading to come employees contracting the virus.

Following the first outbreak of the coronavirus at one of its facilities, a second was reported on July 17 at another facility and the department sent everyone except a few workers home to quarantine and closed the landfill for two days.

“The threat of COVID and the potential exposure employees have given them, given their public facing jobs has remained a serious fear,” Garbark said, adding that record heat was also a factor and some workers took leave due to heat-related illnesses.

“Our employees are also required to wear masks at all times, which restricts breathing, and can increase heat related illness as well. Our crews were quite simply, exhausted,” he noted.

In August, more workers called out and the department directed recycling crews to pick up trash.

“As the number of missed routes grows, we have been unable to make up collections the next day. The backlog has become so significant that it has taken days, or sometimes over a week, to make up the missed collection routes trash and recycling,” Garbark said.

The city reportedly sought help from contractors but received little to no interest, according to the CBS article.

In a recent scathing campaign video that received over 11 million views, Republican Congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik criticized Democrats for mismanaging the city.

“Do you care about black lives? The people that run Baltimore don’t,” Klacik stated:

“This is Baltimore. The real Baltimore. This is the reality for black people every single day: crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes, poverty, and crime,” she continued.

Recycling pickup was suspended until at least November 1st but recycling drop-off centers in the city’s 14 districts would allow residents to dispose of their products, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“The department has been operating with dozens fewer solid waste workers than required, leading to gaps in pickup and strains in its other services such as rat abatement,” the report said.