The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, says it has sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor requesting that the agency establish a system to compensate the waste and recycling industry for providing services to protect public health and safety that otherwise would go unpaid durign the COVID-19 outbreak. NWRA says it also shared copies of the letter with Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the nation’s COVID-19 response task force, and the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery, which has oversight of FEMA.
“Providing these essential services to those unable to pay as a result of economic hardships caused by COVID-19 while continuing to employ the workforce needed to support such an effort will require assistance,” NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith writes in the letter.
He continues, “NWRA requests that FEMA establish a vehicle under disaster debris management plans or by other alternative direct compensation means as selected by FEMA to compensate the waste and recycling industry for providing noncompensated services to protect public health and safety during this time of national emergency. NWRA asks specifically for funding to cover services provided across the country related to customer bad debt and other noncompensated costs incurred for services being provided to the public during this national emergency.”
March 19, the Department of Homeland Security designated the solid waste sector as part of the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce,” while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration included waste and recycling in its emergency declaration. The NWRA says these agencies took these actions in direct response to requests made by the association.