These days are extraordinarily challenging as the world continues to deal with a global health crisis brought by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Experts believe that the deadly virus originated from Wuhan, China as early cases started there.
COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that primarily spreads through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when a person sneezes or coughs. Infected individuals will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Feeling of tiredness
- Loss of taste and smell
- Sore throat
- Body aches and pains
- Skin rashes
- Discolouration of fingers or toes
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Loss of speech or movement
Furthermore, older people and those with underlying health issues – such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer – are more in danger. Their body’s immune system is probably weak enough to fight the said virus.
The COVID-19 has negatively affected every country’s economy, workforce, and health care system. Also, it has caused anxiety and fear for most people.
On the other hand, waste management and disposal are overwhelmed. The waste sector plays a vital role in reducing virus-risk while having council pick-up limitations.
Yes, that is right. We should also pay attention to proper waste management and disposal, especially now. Aside from following the standard health protocols, we should also take care of our surroundings. According to a study, COVID-19 can survive on surfaces, such as glass, stainless steel, and paper, for 28 days at low temperature. So, rubbish items can also be culprits once they contacted the virus.
For a more in-depth discussion, Kurt’s Rubbish Removal will explain how rubbish removal services can help in curbing the effects of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Crisis
Before jumping into details, let’s see first the current state of COVID-19 from a global and Australia’s perspective.
The Global State of COVID-19
As of mid-January, there are about 90 million infections of COVID-19, and approximately 2 million deaths recorded (Check live tracking here). The countries with the highest number of cases are the U.S., India, Brazil, and Russia, in decreasing order.
Furthermore, based on WHO’s weekly epidemiological update on January 12, there are about 5 million cases and 85,000 deaths every day – on average. And the African region had the highest number of new cases and deaths.
Impact on the Economy
According to the World Bank, they forecasted a 5.2% contraction in the world’s GDP in 2020. It can be the deepest global recession since the Second World War.
Lockdowns have necessitated people to stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus. Work-from-home setup and online classes have been the alternatives for the labour force and educational institutions.
However, some industries, especially those that rely on public gatherings, struggle as they need to operate on an inefficient system. The pandemic severely affected most small to medium enterprises, prompting some to layoff employees or close their business for good.
But, authorities believe that the economic downturn is temporary. Most countries are flattening their curves, and economies are getting better. Furthermore, vaccines are now available for emergency use.
Australia’s COVID-19 Status
As of January 15, Australia has recorded 28,689 COVID-19 infections, with about 227 active cases (Check live tracking here). Moreover, a total of 909 individuals have succumbed to the virus.
The Australian government is on high alert as the new COVID-19 strains, discovered in South Africa and the U.K., have entered the country. The new strains of the virus are highly transmissible. But scientists say that their effects have no difference from the existing variant. However, experts are worrying as the available vaccines may not be effective against the new variants.
After authorities have discovered the new U.K. variant in a hotel quarantine facility in Brisbane, they initiated a three-day lockdown. The city is still on heightened alert until January 22 after they recorded six cases in the hotel.
Impact on the Economy of Australia
Australia has entered a recession as its GDP from the April-June quarter fell by 7%. In the early months of 2020, the country suffered from extreme bushfires and the early stages of the COVID-19. Furthermore, the businesses are slowly shutting down, especially small to medium-scale enterprises.
Here are some of the effects of COVID-19 on the economy of Australia since the start of the lockdown:
- The accommodation and food sector dropped by 39%.
- The total wages decreased by 2.6%.
- The unemployment rate peaked at 7.5%.
- The treasury forecasts that Australia’s net debt position will be $703.2 billion for 2020-2021.
The Effect of Lockdowns on Waste Management
During the lockdown, household activities have increased. Families start eating at home, some people develop a hobby, and others opt to shop online. These tasks have caused rubbish problems in the middle of the pandemic. And without proper waste management, it could result in more severe threats such as global warming and other health diseases.
Here are some of the effects of lockdown to waste management:
Domestic Rubbish Generation Intensifies
Before COVID-19, Australia was already facing waste management issues. The country is one of the highest contributors of waste, which almost end up in the landfills. In 2018-2019, we produced 76 million tonnes of rubbish, with the household sector contributing about 12.4 million tonnes.
As the lockdowns require residents to stay at home and avoid going out as much as possible, household rubbish items are bound to accumulate. Moreover, food and shop deliveries are the new normal amidst the pandemic. So, packaging materials and food boxes are primary contributors to the rising domestic waste generation.
Furthermore, families see the lockdown as an opportunity to do more housework. General house cleanups have been rampant. Meaning, it would result in more bulk rubbish ending up in waste bins.
Has the recent lockdown reduced Sydney’s waste volume? The answer is no, and it is actually the opposite. In the City of Canada Bay in Sydney, the collection of bulk household materials has increased by 50% last April. Meanwhile, the City of Sydney council also reported a rise of 35% on special collection service.
Less Special Waste Collection
Local council pick-ups have designated schedules for regular and recyclable wastes. However, particular items such as green waste, furniture, mattress, and other bulk materials require booking an appointment. But in Sydney, collectors don’t take objects longer than 1.5m and more massive than 100kg. Also, they don’t allow construction debris and household chemicals in their service trucks.
With their usual limitations aside, the COVID-19 made local council pick-ups busy as ever. As domestic waste generation increases, some councils have temporarily stopped their other collection services. During the pandemic, they focus on regular household items and recyclables. In this way, residential areas can avoid piling up dirty and filthy rubbish that may invite rodents and pests. These creatures can bring health hazards to the community if ignored.
Medical Waste Issues
As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 spreads through fluids from the mouth and nose when a person talks, sneezes or coughs. With that, health authorities have required people to use face masks when going out. For medical practitioners, PPE gowns and face shields are essential to help contain the virus in hospitals or quarantine facilities.
According to BBC News, the world uses about 129 billion face masks every month. That reaches trillions at the end of the year. The N95 and surgical masks are the two of the most effective protective gears in the market, but they are one-time use only.
As the world continues to deal with COVID-19, demand for face masks, alcohols, PPE gowns, and face shields are bound to increase. However, we can help curb the rising number by avoiding going out as much as possible. In this way, we can be safe from the virus and help lessen the medical waste generation.
Inflating Plastics and Single-Use Items Production
In relation to PPE production and online shopping, plastics continue to become a waste issue. Plastics are materials used to make face masks, PPE gowns, alcohol bottles, face shields and gloves. In China, single-use face masks production skyrocketed to 116 million per day – 12 times more than the usual quantity.
On the other hand, plastics are materials for packaging food and item deliveries. For fragile objects, online sellers even use bubble wraps for added safety. People use plastic bags for an average of 12 minutes, and they would take at least 500 years to decompose in landfills.
As the lockdowns have eased and the economy is slowly recovering, single-use items are the choice to prevent indirect contact with the virus. For instance, dine-in in food establishments sometimes use disposable utensils. In the U.S., state authorities temporarily suspended almost 50 single-use item reduction policies.
Challenges in Collecting Construction Debris
As streets are often empty during the lockdown, some business owners grab the opportunity to renovate their commercial spaces. Moreover, councils also maximise the time to conduct roadworks since traffic is not a problem. That said, construction or demolition debris also pose a threat to waste management.
As mentioned earlier, local council pick-ups have limited services due to higher domestic waste generation. Moreover, they also need to take safety precautions on the possible hazards of medical waste from hospitals. So, they have troubles regarding construction debris collection.
Additionally, picking up massive and bulk concrete, rubbles, and bricks are not as easy as it seems. With a limited workforce, construction debris is difficult to transport. Not to mention, some recycling centres have reduced or stopped treatment due to high demands.
Higher rubbish turnout and limited council pick-up services prompt residents to dump their wastes, illegally. However, they should realise that what they see as convenience will backfire in the future. Illegal dumping is a punishable crime. Authorities have set up fines of up to $250,000 for an individual and $1,000,000 for a corporation. Furthermore, improper waste disposal has effects on local economies.
Additionally, increasing medical waste is causing an alarming problem. Single-use PPEs are destroying marine life. People often littered face masks and empty alcohol bottles in bodies of water. It is terrifying that face masks in oceans exceed the population of the jellyfish. That said, authorities must seriously act now before it is too late. We don’t want to make it to the point that we survive the pandemic, but we killed our oceans.
The Rising Cost and Destruction Brought by Illegal Dumping
We cannot deny the fact that the virus is still out there. But this should not be an excuse for us to create another problem that may bring destruction to the environment and lives. Illegal dumping has been rampant due to lockdown restrictions and limitation on rubbish removal services by councils.
In the city of Melbourne, they recorded a 70% increase in illegally dumped rubbish last April. Meanwhile, the City of Canada Bay Council in Sydney produced a 35% rise in the same month. As these two key cities in Australia struggle, minor local councils likely suffered worse. Thus, proper waste management should not only be the responsibility of the government but ours as well.
So that people can understand how unacceptable it is, here are the rising cost and destruction brought by illegal dumping:
Risk on the Spread of COVID-19
According to WHO, provision for safe water, sanitation, and waste management are vital factors to protect human health during all infectious disease and outbreaks, including COVID-19. Although there is no proven transmission from general wastes, studies suggest that the virus stays on surfaces for hours or days.
Here are the possible durations of the virus on material or medium based on WebMD:
- Metal – 5 days
- Wood – 4 days
- Plastics – 2 to 3 days
- Stainless steel – 2 to 3 days
- Cardboard – 24 hours
- Copper – 4 hours
- Aluminium – 2 to 8 hours
- Ceramics – 5 days
- Face mask exterior – 7 days
- Paper – several minutes up to 5 days
Note that these are typical rubbish items. Although some experts claim that contaminated surfaces are not the highest COVID-19 risk, touching eyes, nose, and mouth while handling them can be dangerous.
Check out this article to know the safety measures in taking out rubbish during the pandemic.
Damages the Environment
Illegal dumping damages the environment. As discussed earlier, PPEs spread on the oceans as the world continues to deal with COVID-19. However, PPEs are not only culprits for marine life destruction. Even before the pandemic, littered items, such as cigarette butts, food wrappers and plastic bottles, pile up on waterways and streets on a much larger scale.
Cigarette butts are the most littered material in the world. In Australia alone, about 7 billion litters out of 24 billion produced every year end up in streets and bodies of water. These can get into rainwater drains and leach harmful chemicals such as cadmium, lead and zinc.
Furthermore, the number of plastics in the ocean is quite alarming. A whopping 8 million tonnes of plastics end up in oceans every year. A study estimates that almost 99% of seabirds will have plastics in their system by 2050. The research also pointed out how crucial effective waste management will be in reducing this threat.
With the current limitation on waste services, household chemicals are not allowed for council pick-up collection. Moreover, green waste will take days or weeks for transport as the threat of COVID is still out there.
Chemicals, green waste, and even cigarette butts can start a fire if discarded illegally. Furthermore, they can pose a severe threat when they end up in forests.
In Australia, bushfires resulted in more than 11 million hectares of forest lands burned. Litters did not trigger them, but climate change did. However, climate change is a waste management problem. As these illegally dumped wastes are untreated and stay in streets and oceans, they contribute to larger greenhouse gases emission. So, in the end, illegal dumping can start a bushfire.
Diminishes Property Value
No one wants to live in a filthy and dirty environment. It diminishes the property value of the community. But, illegal dumping creates an atmosphere not ideal for living. Without proper waste treatment, rubbish that piles up in an area can contaminate the underlying soil then affect the quality of water in the neighbourhood.
Furthermore, untidy streets with food litter can invite pests and rodents into the area. They are health hazards that people should prevent as much as possible. It is hard enough to deal with a pandemic. These days, staying healthy and fit is crucial to avoid weakening the immune system.
Inefficient Spending on Financial Resources
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused most economies to enter a recession. Furthermore, the authorities need to allot a budget for vaccination programs. That said, the government must spend the available financial resources carefully and wisely.
Australia spends about $80 million each year to monitor, investigate and clean up illegally dumped and littered materials. Moreover, according to Sydney Water, they spend about $420,000 every year to discard pollutants from their traps. Additionally, about $150,000 for removal and disposal of plastic bottles alone from the waterways of Sydney.
On the other hand, grave cases of illegal dumping in streets and waterways cost a lot of money for restoration. Take the pollution on Sydney rivers as an example. The NSW, in partnership with the national government, sets about $180 million to restore the polluted bodies of water. It takes that much funds to recover a river. So, it is essential to prevent water pollution on the existing healthy rivers or waterways.
Citizens must realise that the authorities can allocate budget wisely to more crucial programs if they don’t practice illegal dumping.
How Professional Rubbish Removal Services Help in Facing the COVID-19 Crisis
In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, waste management and disposal have been issues that require immediate action. As the lockdown curbs the effects of COVID-19, it results in a much higher waste generation. And with limited council pick-up services, illegal dumping has been rampant.
As the councils are busy containing the pandemic, private sectors must step up in providing services. Rubbish removal companies are essential front liners in this global health crisis. They maintain cleanliness and prevent possible health hazards brought by improper waste disposal.
For a better understanding, here is how professional rubbish removal services help in facing the COVID-19 crisis:
Skip Bin Hire vs Professional Waste Collectors
Local council pick-ups focus on collecting regular waste and recyclables. So, people have two other waste collection options – skip bin hire or rubbish removal company. A skip bin hire allows an individual to rent a container. The size would depend on the volume of the wastes. However, the rentee should load the bin, which can be a hassle for some people.
On the other hand, a rubbish removal company has professional waste collectors who can discard anything under instruction. They also segregate and follow council regulations for proper waste management and disposal. (Check out this article for a more in-depth comparison between skip bin hire and rubbish removal company)
In a situation where a virus is highly contagious, a rubbish removal company is the better choice. Professional waste collectors can handle rubbish items safely. They have proper knowledge and equipment to discard hazardous wastes, especially those that come from infected individuals.
Safe Waste Transport and Disposal
Sectors operating in this pandemic need waste transport and disposal. Luckily, the rubbish removal industry has developed a system that provides careful and safe services. As most council pick-ups have reduced their workload and workforce, professional waste collectors are in demand. Here are some of the establishments that rubbish removal companies serve amidst the threat of the virus:
During the early months of the COVID-19 crisis, lockdowns require people to stay at home. Work-from-home scheme and online classes have substituted face-to-face interactions of the business and education sectors. But, as mentioned previously, lockdowns have increased household activities. Home cooking and online shopping are just two of the many possible reasons for a higher domestic waste generation.
Most homeowners immediately call for rubbish removal services to get rid of filthy and dirty piles of waste. Furthermore, damaged furniture and white goods will take several weeks on standby before council pick-up collection. So, it is wiser to call for professional waste workers for hassle-free residential rubbish removal.
For economic recovery, some states have eased their lockdowns and allow businesses to open. Most public areas operate on a regulated capacity based on experts’ advice. So, office workers now report in their workplaces.
That said, paper reports, food waste, and other office materials will accumulate in time. Most employees don’t have the luxury of dealing with wastes since they need to finish their tasks.
Furthermore, local pick-ups have limited collection service for commercial establishments, depending on council regulation. So, the best solution is to hire a rubbish removal company. They can conduct safe office waste disposal while following the standard health protocols.
Hospitals are the hub for COVID-19 patients. So, they need careful and safe waste disposal to contain the spread of the virus. Rubbish removal companies assist the government in transporting medical waste to their proper place. PPEs require segregation and treatment, which can be easily handled by professional waste collectors.
For hospital waste removal, doctors and medical practitioners should not hesitate to call for Kurt’s Rubbish Removal. Their removalists are experts in handling dangerous medical waste and chemicals.
Construction and Demolition
The COVID-19 is an opportunity for some to build roads and renovate commercial establishments as public activities have halted. But, construction and demolition debris have been a problem for private companies. Local council pick-ups don’t collect them. Furthermore, some recycling centres temporarily stopped accepting recyclables to prevent virus infection.
Fortunately, rubbish removal companies are available to give aid to the construction industry. Their trucks are accessible to transport bulk and massive debris of concrete, bricks, and metals.
For a trusted company like Kurt’s Rubbish Removal, the size of debris does not matter. So, for safe and efficient construction rubbish removal, Kurt is just one call away.
Emergency Rubbish Removal
Dealing with COVID-19 can be quite stressful. For instance, wastes in quarantine facilities require immediate disposal to reduce the possible transmission of the virus. As some countries require a 14-day self-isolation in quarantine hotels or facilities, returning travellers might feel anxious about getting the COVID-19 while staying in those areas.
Thus, rubbish removal companies play a vital role. Emergency and same-day rubbish removal are the pride and honour of Kurt’s Rubbish Removal. The company makes sure that their services are quick and accessible to clients who need them the most.
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has affected so many lives. Many lost their jobs, some businesses shut down, the global economy entered a recession, and millions of people got infected and died.
In the middle of those problems, the waste sector plays a crucial role in curbing the effects of COVID-19. They make sure that other health hazards from rubbish items will not aggravate the situation of the pandemic.
As there is a higher waste turnout due to domestic and medical wastes, local council pick-ups limit their services. Luckily, the rubbish removal industry helps the waste sector face the global health crisis by assisting residential, commercial, and industrial establishments in their rubbish management and disposal.
In Sydney, the leading company that aids the local council is no other than Kurt’s Rubbish Removal. We have dedicated our utmost efforts to bringing safe and quality rubbish removal services to our fellow Sydneysiders.
Our expert removalists have developed a waste disposal system that will prevent the spread of the virus. We make sure to follow the standard health protocols whenever we work. After an hour after your call, we’ll be at your doorsteps with the right tools and PPE to bring top-rate, yet affordable rubbish removal services.
We are available, 24/7! Don’t hesitate to call us at 0428 255 438.