Silver Spring, MD – The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) submitted a letter to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to prioritize the solid waste and recycling sector to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
ACIP is meeting to discuss which industries’ employees should be prioritized for the vaccines. The solid waste and recycling sector is an essential industry as identified in March 2020 by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration (CISA). The sector also has been listed as essential in every emergency order issued at the state level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the CDC’s key advisory committee meeting this week to discuss which sectors of the economy should be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it is critical for the CDC and the committee to understand why our industry should be high on the priority list. Both public sector and private sector personnel have demonstrated they are essential during the pandemic, and need to be vaccinated as quickly as possible,” stated David Biderman, SWANA’s executive director and CEO.
SWANA’s letter to the CDC noted that a substantial portion of the employees in the solid waste and recycling sector are persons of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These essential workers are often unable to socially distance because of the work they perform (e.g., multiple employees frequently ride in a solid waste or recycling collection truck; sorters at recycling facilities).
In June, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan underscored the importance of the solid waste and recycling sector during the pandemic when he recognized both SWANA and America’s waste management professionals for their “tireless work throughout the ongoing public health crisis.”
The letter to the CDC noted this essential public service has been performed daily during the pandemic for the past nine months, and continues every day, as residents and businesses are generating large amounts of solid waste and recyclables on a daily basis that need to be collected, processed, and properly managed.