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Why recycling is more important than ever and how you can do it safely

When it comes to coronavirus, we all want to do our part. That includes our usual day-to-day tasks like recycling, which is especially hard right now.

Why is that, and how can you do it safely?

“Recycling right now is more important than ever,” says Dawn McCormick, communications director for Waste Management Inc. of Florida.

Now more than ever, your recycled goods are coveted.

“A lot of the materials you put curbside, things like paper and plastic bottles, can actually be made into products that are in need right now like paper toweling, cardboard boxes for shipping products, and even other plastic packaging,” said McCormick.

Waste Management says it needs clean, dry and loose recycling.

“The most important things to recycle are paper, cardboard, bottles and cans, and if you do that right, you’re really helping us from a standpoint of getting feedstock to manufacturers who are making important products right now,” McCormick said.

As FGCU’s Rober Hawkes tells us, coronavirus can live on surfaces between one and three days depending on the material, but it’s unlikely for the virus to survive the recycling process.

“If there’s a community recycle bin, then they can certainly put it into the bin, as long as they’re not kind of moving through other recyclables that people have placed, I think they’re going to be totally fine,” Hawkes said.

So you can recycle just like you normally would…however, “it’s important if you’re using personal protective gear like masks or gloves, make sure you dispose of them in the garbage can,” says Hawkes. “They are not recyclable and we don’t want that type of waste coming through our recycling centers.”

OSHA recommends people working with recycling or municipal waste industries should continue using safe work practices and personal protective equipment.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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