How cities are handling recycling during pandemic

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HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas — As scientists study how long COVID-19 can live on different types of surfaces including plastic and cardboard, local cities are sharing how they’re handling recycling. 

According to McAllen City Manager, Roy Rodriguez, they are continuing to pick-up recyclables until further notice. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rodriguez said employees at the facility used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“Maybe not the entire gamut of PPE, but we certainly always have gloves on, and so what we did was we checked with the county health department as well the state health department,” said Rodriguez. “And they indicated that if we’re doing that, that there was no reason to do something different unless something else happens.”

Rodriguez said they also changed the number of employees on the line to maintain social distancing.

However, as far as disinfecting each item collected at the center, he said they don’t do that. 

“If we had to do that, then we would stop recycling because that wouldn’t make sense, it’s too much material,” said Rodriguez. 

On the other hand, the city of Pharr has stopped accepting recyclables from the general public.

According to Pilar Rodriguez, Interim Public Works Director for the city of Pharr, they are only accepting recyclable materials from essential businesses that are still operating in the city.

Pilar said the majority of the commodities that are dropped off are plastic and cardboard. 

“Our understanding is, cardboard can be up to 24 hours and hard surfaces such as plastics can be up to 72 hours,” said Pilar. “And so that’s one of the reasons we curtail the acceptance of recyclables from the general public.”

The Pharr Public Works Director said they have also been using PPE on a daily basis because of cross-contamination from other household waste.

If you do have recyclables, Pilar suggests storing them in the meantime if you can.

If not, contact Pharr Public Works at 956-223-2580. They will determine whether they can accommodate the items.

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