Get dumped? The coronavirus creates a tale of 2 trash heaps

In some wealthy NYC neighborhoods, sanitation workers are seeing lighter loads.


April 14, 2020

We salute the essential workers who are collecting our garbage. They have a very tough job, but there’s at least some good news: In Manhattan’s toniest neighborhoods, trash collectors have noted significantly lighter loads

Have denizens of the Upper East Side embraced a new ethos centered on thoughtful consumption? Orrrrrrrr might they be decamping for second homes in the Hamptons and the Hudson Valley?

Here’s the dirt …

The City crunched the numbers and pounded the pavement and found that it’s likely the latter. In other NYC neighborhoods (not to mention other parts of the country), residential trash volumes are way up.

  • Republic Services, one of the nation’s largest garbage collection companies, expects neighborhood trash tonnage to spike as much as 30%.
  • Many companies are redirecting collection routes to focus less on commercial areas and more on the places people make their homes… and their messes.
  • According to the Solid Waste Association of America, some communities are attempting to slow the roll of refuse by pressing pause on recycling and yard-waste collection.

And some companies are asking customers to procrastinate spring-cleaning projects to help limit the amount of waste placed curbside. (Yessssssss!)

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But let’s think about the safety of sanitation workers

Absenteeism is now a huge challenge for waste management companies. 

Sometimes a worker must quarantine after possible exposure to the virus. Other times, they’re caring for children who are out of school. Some companies have hired additional workers to meet increased demand for services… and as a contingency for when other workers get sick. 

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