Guam’s residential recycling pick-up will be starting back up on Monday June, 1.
Curbside pick-up from homes was halted in the middle of March, because recycling is sorted by hand on the Island and that caused complications with COVID-19 precautions.
Larry Gast, the Guam Solid Waste Authority General Manager, told PNC News they now have the right Personal Protective Equipment and are working with a reduced crew.
“The sorting area for the recycling is like a meat-packing plant, people are standing right next to each other. So, we had to get social distancing in there and move people 6-foot apart, which meant we had to eliminate about 40 percent of the personnel that were doing the sorting.”
Gast says they did a test run with the remaining 60 percent of crew, and they’ll continue to evaluate how much product they can sort through.
“If it stops working, we’ll have to look at what tweaks we need to make and get that information out to everyone. We might have to say ‘please stop putting plastics in’ or ‘please stop putting mixed paper in’.”
For now, GSWA is accepting all approved household recycling materials.
They’ll be picking up from every home on the Island that has a recycling bin, on everyone’s regularly scheduled monthly pick-up days.
Gast says the end-markets for some recycling products have still not bounced back to pre-COVID levels, which will affect how much product they’re able to get off-Island.
Guam ships all of its recycling to foreign markets.
The Waste Authority’s GM says COVID-19 has affected their bottom-line as well.
“Right now, we are losing close to 20 percent of our revenue. There are no hotels operating, no restaurants operating, nothing like that. The commercial waste is where we get most of our revenue from, we actually lose a little bit of money every month on household collections.”
As for curbside pick-up starting again, Gast says if residents stick to recycling guidelines, the operation will run much smoother.
“We generally have between 40 percent and 50 percent contamination when we pick up curbside recycling,” said Gast.
“I’d like to ask everyone to make sure it’s only approved recycling items that are going into the recycling bin. If that contamination is not in the bins, then it makes the sorting process a whole lot easier.”
Gast says residents should be patient with their recycling pick-up, since many bins will be full and teams will be working from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. to complete their routes in the next few weeks.