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Recycling is vitally important to our environment and economy, playing a critical role in supplying raw materials for manufacturing essential products to protect the health and welfare of the nation.
Disruptions of the raw materials supplied by recycling will cause further hardships to consumers across the nation seeking paper and packaging supplies to keep themselves and their community safe. It is critical we keep frontline recycling workers and our community safe.
It is critical we keep frontline recycling workers and our community safe, therefore whether it’s the masks and gloves we wear to the grocery store, the hand sanitizer bottle we keep handy, or the wipes we use, these items belong in the trash and not on the ground.
Helping to keep their workers, customers, and community safe, retailers are strongly encouraged to provide frequently serviced trash receptacles in highly accessible areas to prevent the littering of used PPE.
Recycling regulations may be shifting in communities due to CDC guidelines. Many communities have suspended recycling programs because of worker safety and other limitations. As always — look up what you can recycle locally.
If you or someone in your home has tested positive for the coronavirus, do not recycle your recyclables; place them in a bag that is securely closed and discard them in your trash container. This also applies to any used cleaning supplies, paper towels, tissues, or PPE generated within a home or business with someone who has tested positive.
Health and Safety
Due to reports from global health services and a study published on March 20, 2020, in the New England Journal of Medicine indicating the coronavirus (COVID-19) can remain viable on surfaces for an extended period of time, such as up 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic, we are advising everyone to exercise caution and use litter-collection devices, washable gloves, or frequently wash their hands when picking up litter, in small physically distancing groups or individually. Also, follow CDC sanitizing recommendations until further notice. Our primary concern and priority is the health and safety of our affiliate network, volunteers, and all Americans as they work to improve their communities. #SafetyIsBeautiful
Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take in avoiding getting sick and spreading germs to others.
This is an evolving situation, and we encourage you to closely monitor reports from your state and local health departments, the CDC, and WHO.
Keep America Beautiful Posters
Keep America Beautiful Resources
- Litter Cleanup in a COVID-19 Environment [PDF]
- Food Saving Tips During COVID-19 [PDF]
- Gardening Tips During COVID-19 [PDF]
- Managing Used PPE: Masks, Gloves, and Wipes [PDF]
- Recycling Tips During COVID-19 [PDF]
- Spring Cleaning Tips During COVID-19 [PDF]
- Hand Washing Guide [PDF]
Industry Trade Association Resources
- Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)
- National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA)
- Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA)
- Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)
- The Recycling Partnership (TRP)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Stay Up to Date on COVID-19
- How coronavirus is disrupting US waste and recycling (WasteDive)
- Coronavirus Impacts on the Recycling Industry (ResourceRecycling)
- All COVID News Related to Waste, Recycling and Organics Industry (Waste360)
- Top Coronavirus Outbreak Facts and Statistics (Waste Advantage)
- Waste Today survey shows widespread industry impact of COVID-19 (Waste Today)
- Waste and recycling trade groups issue coronavirus guidance for worker safety (WasteDive)
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response (CDC)
- American Public Health Association (APHA)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Resource Center
Keep America Beautiful in the News
- John Breunig: No masking need to stop littering during coronavirus (Hearst Newspapers)
- SWANA, KAB Urge Proper Disposal of Gloves, Masks (Waste360)
- Stamford-based Keep America Beautiful: Remember to properly dispose of wipes, gloves, masks (GreenwichTime)
- COVID-19 phenomenon of discarded vinyl gloves, masks in parking lots draws concern (News12 Connecticut)
- Used PPE thrown out in streets underscores new littering issue (CBS4 WTTV-TV)