People increasingly sorting waste while at home ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Waste containers.
Waste containers. Source: ERR

Under emergency situation conditions, more waste than expected is being generated in residential areas, and apartment associations are finding themselves having to order additional waste containers. People remaining at home have begun increasingly sorting their household waste, and recycling containers are increasing in popularity as people go through more recyclables.

Tallinn's 100 biggest apartment associations have noted that at least one large container's worth of additional waste is being produced per week, and in order to maintain cleanliness, something must be done, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

"Waste has increasingly moved to residential areas," Tallinn Waste Center director Kristjan Mark said. "Tallinn Waste Center's customer service has certainly been busier recently; there are more calls and emails. On one end, you have clients that want to reduce or halt pickups. But on the other, containers are overflowing in residential areas, and they need additional pickups or an additional container."

Public recycling containers are also filling up more quickly than before. An additional ten recycling containers were recently brought to Tallinn.

According to Alder Harkmann, the CEO of recycler Eesti Pakendiringlus, recycling containers are already being emptied as frequently as possible, but as they are still overflowing, additional containers must be added.

"On the other hand, we're very satisfied that we can collect more recycling," Harkmann added.

Beginning this week, Pakendiringlus began offering its containers as a service to apartment associations, indicating a trend.

The Ministry of the Environment has held several crisis talks  with waste management operators in order to ensure the vital service of waste management regardless of circumstances. While some smaller dumps are currently closed, everything else has remained the same in terms of household waste. What has been noted is an increase in people's activity.

"An increase in the generation of recyclables, and the sorting thereof," said Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment Kaupo Heinma. "Another thing is cleaning — of basements, storerooms — and the hauling off of unnecessary materials, because people have a lot of time at home."

What is considered a bigger risk right now than trash contaminated by the coronavirus is the risk that waste management workers fall ill and waste goes uncollected.

The Ministry of the Environment recently released new guidelines for disposing of used personal protective equipment (PPE). It is also being recommended that trash be held in so-called quarantine so that the virus, contained in a bag, can die before the waste is picked up.

Waste management workers are appreciative of everyone's efforts.

"One thing I would like to say thank you for is that very many residents across Estonia have begun bringing their containers out to the side of the road," Ragn-Sells director Rain Vääna said. "This reduces the risk for our drivers, who don't have to come in contact with possible infection risks."

Waste is nonetheless largely also a business, but it is yet unknown what effect the reduction in industrial waste will have on the sector.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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