Legislation targeting relief for the United States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic should include a four-point plan targeting the nation’s independent waste haulers that are hard hit by the outbreak, and on the front lines of ensuring the nation’s ongoing health, said Nate Morris, founder and CEO of Rubicon, in a letter to the president, key cabinet secretaries and Congressional leaders.
Rubicon is a technology company that provides waste, recycling and smart city solutions to thousands of commercial and municipal customers across 50 U.S. states and in 20 countries.
“As the COVID-19 public health emergency unfolds across the United States and the world, life as we know it is changing in new and challenging ways,” said Morris in his letter. “The American economy is threatened, as is the health of every citizen. We are all being asked to find ways to contribute to the recovery while simultaneously adapting to a new way of engaging with our families, colleagues and community.”
Rubicon’s work is powered by a network of more than 7,000 independent haulers that provide waste and recycling services for many of the nation’s largest and most important brands. It also provides those vital services to main street businesses within American communities across the country. Across Rubicon’s waste and recycling network, a majority of its partners are family-owned-and-operated small, regional fleets.
“While so many of us are self-isolating and retreating from this spreading virus, the women and men who own these independent waste and recycling companies, and the people they employ, are working in our communities,” added Morris. “As an ‘essential service,’ these haulers must continue to keep our cities and towns sanitary by driving their routes and providing daily pickups. It is a thankless task—especially in times like these—but it is vital to ensure the public’s health.”
As thousands of businesses that make up these independent hauling companies’ customer base are shuttered, haulers are experiencing an unprecedented strain on their bottom lines, explained Morris.
“The risk to these small businesses going bankrupt is real, and they need immediate help to maintain operations and ensure that they will survive this crisis,” he said. “Most importantly, our society needs these businesses to remain operational because our country and communities cannot afford an additional threat to public health caused by uncollected waste and recycling.”
To ensure this important public service remains uninterrupted, Morris called on Congress in developing its relief package to incorporate four critical points:
- Providing Small Business Administration grants that extend beyond the restaurant and retail sectors, for those that are directly impacted by the trickle-down effect of mandated closures.
- Expanding the Small Business Interruption Loan program to provide for 12 weeks of payroll loans, rather than the current six weeks for such loans.
- Lowering the percentage threshold from 10 percent unemployment to 5 percent unemployment for states to receive assistance in processing unemployment claims from the recently appropriated $1 billion emergency grants.
- Temporarily reducing or eliminating both the employer and employee portions of the payroll tax.