Will Coronavirus Shut Down Trash & Garbage Pickup?


Many events and services across the United States are shutting down temporarily because of the coronavirus. Among them are restaurants, gyms, and even churches in some locations. But will trash pickup come to an end? There has been no word of trash pickup being disrupted by COVID-19 at this time. Cities that have instituted shutdowns or quarantines have said that essential services are still continuing, which includes trash pickup. However, there could be changes to the schedule of your trash pickup, depending on where you live, and some other services like dropoffs might be closed.

Trash Pickup Is Expected To Continue, But Schedules Could Change in Some Cities

There is no word of trash pickup being discontinued anywhere at this time. A good rule of thumb is to sign up for your city’s emergency notifications. Although trash pickup will continue as an essential service, there’s always a chance that schedules might change depending on your city’s local situation. For example, some cities continued curbside pickup but closed dropoff locations.

Here are examples of what some specific cities have done.

San Francisco has said the timing of some trash pickups may change. In the Bay Area, six counties are under shelter-in-place orders, along with the city of Berkeley. These counties are all still offering trash pickup as this is considered an essential service. Santa Clara County’s order, which is identical to the other orders, reads:

    1. Individuals may leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of “Essential Infrastructure,” including, but not limited to, public works construction, construction of housing (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness), airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services), provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible.”

But there could be schedule changes. San Francisco, which is under the shelter-in-place, notes on its trash collection website:

In an effort to continue uninterrupted service while planning, preparing and responding to the Coronavirus outbreak, you may experience an earlier than normal pickup time on your regular collection day. Please place bins out the night before your service day to ensure proper collection. Recology has instituted staggered work shifts for our employees to minimize large gatherings as recommended by the Center for Disease Control. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.”

Best Trash In Houston is asking for some changes while continuing its service. Houston, Texas has had an increase in coronavirus infections. Best Trash is a six-year-old privately-owned residential waste collection company in Houston that services more than 150,000 customers.

Best Trash has said that trash and recycling services are continuing as normal, but routes may run later at times. They are asking for some changes in how trash is dropped off for them.

In response to the continuing effects of the Coronavirus and in observance of our employee’s safety, we are asking that all waste be placed in plastic bags and tied off to avoid any direct contact with the garbage.

Please continue to place your recycling loose in your container.  However, if anyone in your household is exhibiting symptoms of any transmissible illness, please place recyclables in plastic bags and dispose of with your regular garbage.”

The city of Atlanta has said trash pickup is remaining on schedule. Trash pickup is considered an essential service.

Republic Services has said that some temporary service delays may occur, but they are still providing trash pickup. They provide services for customers in 41 states.

They said they’re confident they have the right business continuity in place but are constantly monitoring. Here’s their full message:

At Republic Services, the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities are a top priority. We recognize the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is evolving rapidly, and we are continuously evaluating the situation to ensure we can continue to provide superior service and support to our customers across the country. While we are confident that we have the right business continuity plans in place to quickly respond to situations that may impact the communities we serve, we apologize for any temporary service delays that may occur.

We will continue monitor developments to ensure we address escalated situations quickly, effectively and – most importantly – safely. This includes continuing to work closely with public health experts and other advisors, as well as following guidance from the CDC. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”

Waste Management offers waste management services for homes and businesses in most states.  Their website notes: “The health and safety of our employees, our customers, and the communities we serve is our highest priority. Based on the available information, we are maintaining our standard operations. Any developing service information will be posted to wm.com/alerts. Sign up for email and text alerts to receive the latest updates.”

North Charleston is continuing trash pickup. It’s viewed as an essential service, while the city is canceling some other events due to COVID-19.

Harrison Township in New Jersey is continuing trash pickup but is suspending bulk trash pickup for the time being.

St. Louis, Missouri is continuing trash and recycling services on their normal schedules.

In Virginia, trash services are continuing as normal, while many other services are being canceled. For example, in James City County, Jolly Pond Road is open for trash disposal. The city of Norfolk continues trash pickup as an essential service, as do Suffolk and Portsmouth.

In Stevens-Point, Wisconsin, curbside garbage and recycling are continuing with no change in schedule, but bulk item, yard waste, and recycling dropoffs are closed.

Even the part of New Rochelle that was the site of the first extensive containment zone in the country was still providing curbside trash collection.

Other cities are taking positive action to help customers. Las Cruces has delayed an increase in price for curbside trash pickup because of the coronavirus.

So as you can see, trash pickup is continuing at this time, as it is viewed as an essential service. However, you should check your local city’s program to see if there are any changes to the schedule or if other services, like bulk pickup or trash dropoff, might be changed or canceled.