MRWMD waste sorting

Waste gets handled by heavy equipment at MRWMD in Marina.

That stuff you don’t want anymore that’s piled high in your garage or in closets? No one else wants it during the Covid-19 pandemic either, so reorder and rearrange all you want while you’ve got the time, but for now that stuff has to shelter-in-place along with you.

Landfill and recycling operators are reminding the public that they’re open only to accept waste resulting from essential services during state and local orders to stay home. In addition, charity organizations like Goodwill are completely shut down for the safety of employees and the community, at least until the latest shelter-in-place order is lifted, possibly May 3.

A good example of waste from an essential activity might be replacing a damaged roof threatening the health and safety of the people living inside. All non-essential construction was ordered to halt when the latest more stringent shelter-in-place order took effect April 11.

Yet with more people home with time on their hands, landfill operators and recyclers around the state, including the Monterey Regional Waste Management District and Salinas Valley Recycles, have noticed an uptick in materials from what’s become known on social media as “corona projects”—#cornaprojects or #quarantineprojects on social media.

“We are seeing evidence of these ‘corona projects’ at our facilities,” Patrick Mathews, general manager for Salinas Valley Recycles said in a press release. “What appears to be non-essential home and yard cleanup chores are culminating at recycling and disposal centers. Normally this would be a welcomed and encouraged occurrence, but under the current conditions it’s an unnecessary health risk for the public and for our workers.”

Both MRWMD and SVR officials are asking the public to stop and consider if a trip to the landfill or recycling facility is truly essential.

“If trips are essential, please maintain social distancing and sanitation standards for your health and the health of our staff,” MRWMD General Manager Tim Flanagan says. “But if it is not a matter of life or death, or in this case healthy or unhealthy conditions, then it can wait.”

Goodwill Central Coast shut down its stores and donation collection points in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties on March 18, the first day Monterey County’s initial shelter-in-place order took effect. The health and safety of employees and the public was cited as the reason by Alan C. Martinson, vice president of retail, in an announcement. Other similar nonprofits that take donations also temporarily shut down.

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