ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Discarded face masks. Plastic gloves left in the streets and on the sidewalks. Non-recyclables mixed in with the recycling. These are some of the issues that towns across Essex County are reporting when it comes to coronavirus-related trash.
As more people start to use face masks and gloves at the recent guidance of the CDC, towns such as Bloomfield, Montclair and Cedar Grove have begun seeing problems when it comes to COVID-19 garbage.
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On Monday evening, Bloomfield officials passed a resolution at the township council meeting, reminding residents that police will be enforcing local littering and dumping laws to combat the improper disposal of protective gloves, wipes and masks during the coronavirus outbreak.
Municipal officials have been getting “numerous” complaints about people chucking their used items on local sidewalks and streets instead of putting them in trash receptacles.
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It’s an easily fixed issue that’s putting lives at risk, officials said.
“We strongly encourage all members of the Bloomfield community to act responsibly and dispose of masks, gloves and disposable wipes in a manner that does not compromise the health and safety of our residents,” Councilman Nick Joanow said.
Nearby in Cedar Grove, township public works employees have been finding personal protective equipment strewn about public areas, officials announced Wednesday.
Township officials wrote:
“The mayor and council are asking everyone to dispose of their [personal protective equipment] (PPE) properly into trash containers. Containers have been conveniently placed for you to use in business locations like those in the parking lot of the Super Foodtown Store. Township public works employees are also picking up PPE in the public areas. Let’s make every effort to keep our township and environment clean. Finally, if you are in need of assistance, especially to our seniors, contact the Cedar Grove Health Department’s Dee Riou at 973-239-1410, extension 224.”
In Montclair, officials are reporting a different problem: people are throwing away their masks and gloves out with the recycling.
According to a Montclair town advisory issued on Wednesday:
“The recycling facility that receives and processes Montclair’s recycling has reported receiving a large amount of latex gloves and masks in the recycling loads. Masks and latex gloves are not considered household recycling. They must be disposed of as trash. For the sake of the health of recycling facility crews who must remain healthy to continue this essential service, please dispose of these items properly – in the trash.”
Town officials in Livingston issued a similar message on Thursday, reminding people to properly remove and dispose of personal protective equipment.
“These gloves and masks are NOT recyclable,” Livingston officials stated. “Do not place them in with recycling; doing so can actually spread the disease.”
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