The shutdown in the spring due to COVID-19 caused a major escalation in waste production in homes across the Upstate. With people being home so much more these days, waste piles up. Recycling, though, has both benefited from the situation while also suffering a bit over time.
On the city level, Greenville saw a 20% increase in recycling during the spring and summer months of 2020 when Greater Greenville Sanitation services were suspended during the initial pandemic shutdown, according to Beth Brotherton, the city’s director of communications and neighborhood relations.
The county, on the other hand, has seen no real change.
“We saw no specific changes related to recycling. We continue to provide our normal recycling services during the pandemic,” said Wendy McNatt, recycling coordinator at the Greenville County Solid Waste Division.
However, she said that there was a spike in waste.
“At our residential waste and recycling centers where you bring the trash to, I believe we took in an extra 1,400 tons in the first four weeks of the pandemic,” McNatt said. Some of the wait times at the centers clocked in around two hours.
That waste increase goes along with what’s been seen across the country. With the rising demand for personal protective equipment and the plastic necessary to produce it, a recent Reuters report states that “COVID-19 has hit plastic recycling.”
Zeb Parsons of Bricolage Dynamics said he saw about a 20% increase in his company’s services at the beginning of the pandemic. Bricolage Dynamics collects glass around the Greenville area. The company pounds the glass to sand and sells it to landscapers. Greenville does not recycle glass, so Parsons’ company fills in the recycling gap through this service.
Parsons said he had to turn away some due to the demand for his glass recycling services. He says there’s just been a lot more glass. “I mean … alcohol-related glass has gone way up, especially during the shutdown. We just picked up all through that.”