The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) recently sent a letter urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish a system to compensate the public and private sector solid waste and recycling industry for providing essential collection and disposal services that may otherwise go unfunded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Solid waste management was identified as an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce in the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s March 19 memo and has been listed as essential in every emergency order issued at the state level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SWANA’s letter expands on a previous request to cover both municipal providers and the private sector. With residential collection frequently provided by municipal providers, and residential volumes increasing, this request is particularly timely. SWANA represents individuals employed at both municipal sanitation departments and private companies throughout the United States.
“The SWANA letter asks FEMA to protect both municipal and private sector organizations that provide essential services,” said SWANA Executive Director and CEO David Biderman in a statement. “Since both the public and private sectors collect and manage solid waste and recyclables, SWANA’s letter asserts that all sanitation departments, haulers and post-collection companies providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic without being paid for them should be eligible for reimbursement.”
SWANA’s letter requests that “FEMA ensure funding is made available across the country to municipalities and their private sector partners to cover all of the costs incurred to provide these essential services during this national emergency. It is imperative that solid waste management continue uninterrupted at this critical time. FEMA can help protect public health and safety by committing to cover the costs of essential services provided that aren’t paid by the service recipients (e.g., customer bad debts).”