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How COVID reflects in our garbage

Tons more residential trash after people stayed home
Posted at 7:49 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 22:55:16-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — If you want to know what’s going on in a society just look at its garbage. When COVID-19 sent a lot us home---that showed up at the landfill.

Residential trash is up -- and business trash is down.

Tucson's environmental services says that trend tracks the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Tucson, household garbage pick ups went up by about fifty tons a day when COVID turned homes into 24 hour a day shelters, workplaces and schoolrooms filled with people who might usually throw out much of their trash somewhere else.

Pat Tapia, Deputy Director of Tucson Environmental Services says, "And we increased our tonnages by about 13% at the curbside program that was at the residential residential we saw an increase commercial we saw actually declined. A lot of that was because the businesses were closed."

Tapia says it's hard to tell exactly how much commercial trash declined because private contractors do a lot of the business pickups.

COVID precautions may have more people using throwaway items but most residential customers use bags that make it tough to tell exactly what they throw out.

"We've seen a gradual drop so we're closer to about 11% now just because we're starting to get back to work but we're also there's the sign businesses are starting to open up. So you see the commercial starting to pick up a little bit of tonnages," said Tapia.

People who work with solid waste know, they might see the ups and downs of the economy before the economists do.

Tapia says, "You can tell when economy is doing well, you see people, you know, buying more, and what we've seen this change is staying at home, eating at home more so yeah actually the solid waste registers actually reflect how people behavior or how the economy is actually doing."