MCSWMA work continues

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority has changed its operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the switch to single-stream recycling is still tentatively set to go online in October as originally planned.

The authority continues to promote the project and communicate with its general contractors and equipment manufacturers, though much of the construction phase has been paused due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, said MCSWMA Director of Operations Brad Austin.

“We’ve got construction that’s happening on-site with our own staff, so construction does continue. We have a portion of this project that we were able to take on, so we are moving forward with jobs and tasks that we can do, that aren’t part of the project. But the general contractor is off-site and will remain off-site until the 13th of April. Again tentatively, that’s the executive order that’s in place. As those things develop, we will re-evaluate the situation and we’ll go from there,” Austin said.

Other measures taken by the authority include reducing staff in order to facilitate social distancing and limiting the overall amount of traffic within the offices, Austin explained. This includes suspending face-to-face appointments for household hazardous waste collection and confidential document destruction until further notice, a MCSWMA Facebook post states.

While services such as waste disposal and recycling continue, there has been a noticeable reduction in drop-offs since the executive orders went into effect, Austin said.

“You’ve got two different customers that typically come into the facility. You’ve got the private haulers who are picking up materials at the curb — so curbside solid waste recycling — and then you have what we refer to as a small hauler. That would be the roofers and the builders, the construction folks that are doing jobs. Those services are available however, we are seeing a reduction in the number of small haulers …” Austin said. “We do see a little bit more activity on the residential side now obviously because of where we are, but the services are available. I think probably a bulk of our material received right now is coming from the residential sector, the private haulers who are picking materials up curbside.”

MCSWMA has been communicating with haulers and there are still buyers throughout the region inquiring about what materials are available for purchase from the authority, he added.

Authority staff responsible for solid waste processing and handling is following guidelines put out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since the onset of the virus.

There has been a push for good personal hygiene practices and increased hand washing, Austin said, but the use of personal protective equipment by handlers was already a standard in the workplace.

“Certainly any enhanced PPE that’s out there, that’s available, we’ve communicated to our staff — that anything in addition to what we’re currently doing — if we need to upgrade, we support that, we will purchase that, but just in general, the industry OSHA came down and identified the standard PPE that workers in this field typically utilize is adequate,” he said. “Then of course, more locally the workplace protocols — the social distancing, the hand washing, the staying home if you’re sick — all those things kind of put together is the package for the essential workforce.”

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve, the MCSWMA will monitor the work and operations, Austin said.

“There are a group of people that are out here that are essential. If you get an opportunity to thank those folks — whether it’s landfill workers or collections folks, certainly the folks in health care and all the things that folks are dealing with — just (have) an enormous appreciation for what’s going on in times like this,” he added.

Trinity can be reached at tcarey@miningjournal.net


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