The Township of Montclair had to temporarily halt its recycling pick up due to the impact of COVID-19 on staff. But Montclair has adapted with residents dropping off their recyclables to the DCS yard at 219 North Fullerton Avenue. So many residents in fact, that the Township responded by expanding recycling drop-off days and hours.
Township Manager Timothy Stafford spoke of the challenges facing the Township during Tuesday’s council meeting, explaining how the township tried to avoid the suspension. The township explored the idea of conducting a single trash pick-up and one recycling collection per week, but found it would be unsustainable for several reasons:
- A single-load trash pick-up conducted twice a week requires 5 trucks and 15 employees and takes approximately 6 hours to complete. A double-load trash pickup conducted once a week requires at least 6 or 7 trucks and 18 to 21 employees, depending on volume, and takes approximately 10 to 12 hours to conduct.
- Given the severe loss of employee numbers due to COVID-19, it became clear that the township does not have enough workers to conduct a double-load pick-up on a sustainable basis. Not only would the load be too taxing on the workers who are currently available, but the same employees would also have to collect the weekly recycling in the town’s four recycling collection sections. So, what is normally completed in four days would need to be done in two or three days.
The township also sought quotes from four private haulers to see if they could provide temporary assistance. Three are experiencing the same situation with severely reduced employee numbers. The fourth gave a six-figure quote for a four-week period.
Stafford said he did not know when the suspension would end.
“The illness impacts people differently. Some people are back working quickly. Other people are not. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of long haulers on the news who are impacted for months,” Stafford said. “We hope that isn’t going to be the case here. We hope that the people who have been working tirelessly every day since March of 2020 can return to work promptly.”
Councilor Peter Yacobellis asked residents to take this time as an opportunity to revisit recycling best practices.
He urged residents make sure to clean out their recyclables of any food residue to minimize chance of bacterial growth.
“Remember that we only pick up recycling plastics numbers one, two, and five,” he added. “So if it’s not labeled one, two or five, it should not be in your recycling bin. It should go in your trash bin.”
Yacobellis reminded residents to collapse and flatten cardboard to save space and encouraged residents to visit the township website to review what the recycling rules are.