Materials Management COVID-19 Coronavirus Response
DEEP is committed to ensuring the health and safety of Connecticut’s citizens. During the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, we have been working with many of the state’s business sectors to base our decisions on accurate, reliable information. DEEP has worked with the waste management industry to ensure the timely and safe disposal of solid waste and the continued collection and recycling of the state’s mandatory recyclable items. DEEP has also worked closely with the grocery retailers regarding the collection of deposit bottles and cans and the safe use of re-useable grocery bags. Please keep in mind that continuing to safely recycle will support various industries that rely on these materials for their manufacturing processes and recycling helps to protect the environment.
DEEP’s collaboration with Connecticut waste hauling companies contributed to Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7H, issued on March 20, 2020, which identifies solid waste hauling and recycling as essential services. The declaration allows waste haulers to continue doing the important work of removing waste from our neighborhoods and taking it to disposal facilities, as well as collecting recyclables and delivering those materials to recycling markets. The declaration also identifies waste facilities as essential, including the state’s five resources recovery facilities where most of Connecticut’s solid waste is safely combusted for energy recovery.
In an effort to ensure continuous service for the collection of waste and recyclables and the transportation of those materials to appropriate facilities, DEEP continues to communicate and coordinate with the industry to provide additional flexibility as circumstances warrant.
Please note that in order for the essential waste collection services to continue uninterrupted, the safety of the essential workers must be ensured. It is safer for the drivers to stay in their cabs and not have to exit their trucks to collect stray waste or move obstructions to gain access to the solid waste set out for collection. Please be sure that solid waste that is set out is not loose but appropriately secured in its bin or bag. However, recyclable items should not be bagged but be left loose in the recycling bin or bucket.
Biomedical Waste Management/ COVID-19 Biomedical Waste
All untreated waste that is generated during the administration of medical care or the performance of medical research involving humans or animals, including infectious waste, pathological waste and chemotherapy waste is Biomedical Waste (BMW), and must be managed as such. This category of waste includes testing equipment such as disposable swabs and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks and gowns, used during treatment and testing at medical facilities. BMW should be managed in accordance with the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies Sec. 22a-209-15 and should be placed in clearly marked biohazard or “red” bags, or otherwise identified as biohazard waste. The Centers for Disease Control has provided guidance regarding the management of BMW generated during the treatment/testing of suspected/confirmed COVID-19 patients. The CDC recommends that medical treatment and/or testing facilities manage such waste as they would manage other BMW, no additional management methods are required for the safe management of COVID-19 wastes.
Biomedical waste does not include PPE generated in a residential setting or used as a precaution in public venues such as offices, grocery stores, etc. Such waste is considered municipal solid waste (MSW), or trash and should be managed as you would manage any other routinely generated waste. Please place all used PPE that is generated in a residential setting or used as a precaution in general public venues and discarded, in the nearest trash receptacle. Do not drop such PPE in parking lots, in or near storm drain systems or in any public places where there is no trash receptacle nearby. Dropping PPE anywhere other than a trash receptacle is littering which is illegal and carries up to a $298.50 fine, is unsightly, harms the environment, and places other people at risk. Please bag such waste in a grocery bag or paper bag and dispose of the bag and its contents when you can use a trash receptacle.
Connecticut’s bottle bill program and deposit container redemption services are a fundamental part of the recycling industry and have been deemed to be essential under Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7H.
On March 17, 2020, DEEP issued a press release noting that it would be temporarily suspending enforcement actions against Connecticut retailers for failing to accept empty beverage containers for redemption. During this time and until May 20, 2020, if stores do not accept empty beverage containers, DEEP will not issue them a notice of violation. On May 20, 2020, DEEP will terminate its enforcement discretion related to the retail suspension of redemption services. DEEP is working with representatives of grocery stores, retailers and redemption service providers as they develop plans to resume state-wide redemption of deposit containers at retail locations where redemption services were suspended during the COVID-19 response. The plans will provide at least limited redemption activities beginning on May 20, 2020 and full redemption services by June 3, 2020.
The purpose for this “enforcement discretion” is to allow retailers such as supermarkets and grocery stores to better utilize their available resources to help keep stores clean and sanitized and to keep the shelves stocked. Prioritizing retailers’ resources is driving the decision to close redemption areas, not the existence of any evidence that there is a health risk associated with the beverage containers.
While retailers might opt to temporarily halt their bottle redemption services, most independent redemption centers have indicated that they intend to stay open. DEEP maintains a list of redemption centers in Connecticut on its website:
It is recommended that residents check with a redemption location to ensure they are open before heading there with containers to redeem.
Recommended signage for retailers to post if they choose to suspend deposit redemptions during this period of time:
On May 13, 2020, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7NN section 9 which extends the provisions of Executive Order No. 7N temporarily suspending the ten-cent tax on single-use plastic checkout bags and allowing retail employees the opportunity to decline to bag for customers who bring in reusable bags. The temporary suspension is extended through June 30, 2020. Customers may still use their own reusable bags if they bag their own items (May 14).
On March 27, 2020, DEEP, Department of Public Health and Department of Revenue Services issued a joint press release stating that customers who use re-usable bags are strongly encouraged to pack their own bags, in other words: bring-your-own/pack-your-own bags. Retail and grocery workers and the general public are much more likely to catch or spread the virus through airborne droplets via close-contact with an infected person or persons. Regardless of the type of bag a consumer chooses, proper handwashing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding touching the face, routine cleaning of frequently touched spaces and social distancing as much as possible are considered best-practices to reduce the spreading of the disease.
It is well-established that soap and water, alcohol-based sanitizers, and common widely-available disinfection products are all very effective in killing coronaviruses. Re-usable bags should and can easily be cleaned between uses through laundering, hand washing, or wiping with a disinfecting wipe. General safe-practices when using cloth or plastic reusable bags is to clean them after each use following the care instructions on the label, keep raw meats, seafood, produce and household cleaners in separate bags and store clean, dry bags in a cool, dry environment. Combined with frequent hand-washing with soap and water and wiping of surfaces with cleaning and disinfecting products effectively eliminates viable coronaviruses from surfaces and prevents them from being transferred to mucous membranes.
Recycling has been identified as an essential service during the COVID-19 coronavirus emergency. The materials Connecticut residents and businesses recycle, especially cardboard, are essential feedstocks for new materials. The manufacture of products such as boxes, tissue and paper towels rely on these recycled materials. Effective recycling starts with you; please keep recycling so that manufacturers have access to these materials at this critical time. Connecticut residents and businesses should continue to divert their recyclable materials from their trash, and should also take care not to place items in mixed recycling bins and dumpsters that are actually contaminants (e.g., plastic bags, Styrofoam, food scraps, etc).
If you are not sure what items should or should not be placed in a mixed recycling bin, please refer to the “What’s IN, What’s OUT” guidance available at www.RecycleCT.com.
Resources for Further Information
For more information regarding solid waste management and COVID-19 response: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Waste-Management-and-Disposal/Solid-Waste/Solid-Waste-Home
For more information regarding hazardous waste management and COVID-19 response: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Waste-Management-and-Disposal/Hazardous-Waste/Hazardous-Waste-Home
For more information on Connecticut’s recycling programs: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Reduce-Reuse-Recycle/ReduceReuseRecycle-Main-Page
Information from the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) regarding how to clean reusable bags: https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/cleaning-tips/clothes/fabric-care/cleaning-reusable-bags
Solid waste and wastewater management workers and employers OSHA information: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html#solidwaste
Frequently asked questions concerning COVID-19 coronavirus from the Center for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
Information regarding the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus and how to protect yourself and others from infection from the Center for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html
Advice and information concerning COVID-19 coronavirus from the World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
For information on why handwashing with soap is effective against viruses: https://news.northeastern.edu/2020/03/20/heres-why-washing-your-hands-with-soap-for-20-seconds-protects-you-from-covid-19/
Content Last Updated May 14, 2020