Trash piles up as families stay home during pandemic

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BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Thursday was a garbage day on several side streets in Blount County, and under overcast skies at 8 a.m., drivers for “Carl’s Garbage Service” were out making the rounds for disposal, tossing more bags than usual of trash into the truck.

“My landfill fee went up to $4,850 more than February,” Carl Walker, owner of Carl’s Garbage Service, said. “And they were only confined at home for two weeks. In April, they’re confined the whole month, I hate to see my bill this month.”

Families getting to cleanup ‘to-do’ lists

With families across the state advised to stay at home, many are finally getting to that “one-day to-do-list,” organizing closets, garage and pantries to pass the time.

“I’ve got a few that I think are cleaning the neighbor’s garage too,” Walker said. “It’s a lot more trash, it would be more if people were just staying home but a lot of it you can tell it’s just stuff they’re throwing away because they’ve had it stored.”

Walker likened the volume of trash his crews have collected to that collected during the Holiday season. Although the volume is much larger than the bags full of paper and cardboard collected in December.

“We’ve thrown away canned goods that have been stored since 2006 in this,” he said. “People have been bringing it out since 2006 and we’re going to restock it with new stuff. So we’re hauling it to the landfill and it’s heavy.”

The high volume of trash forces Walker’s drivers, who are already braving the front lines, to spend more time out on the job. On a standard route, the drivers make just two trips to the Landfill, Walker said now most of his drivers are having to make three trips with 15-20 stops on the final haul and additional stops at the fuel pumps.

Longer times on routes and added precautions for workers

Solid waste collection is a public health measure in and of itself, so suspending it like officials have done with some other services amid the coronavirus outbreak, isn’t an option.

“We’re an essential business and to leave garbage piled up would make things worse not better so we have to be out there running,” he said.

Walker has taken added precautions to help protect his employees as they brave the frontlines by providing disposable gloves, encouraging social distancing and making his own hand sanitizer after having difficulty finding some in the store.

“We’re going to get through it,” he said. “Just pray for all the sanitary workers and all the health care workers mainly because I think there’s some extra exposure. We could do all we can do and if the Lord doesn’t help us we’re still in trouble so always pray for the health care workers. They’re brave.”

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