GRAND RAPIDS — After a five-week shutdown over safety concerns stemming from COVID-19, Kent County will reopen its recycling facilities on Monday.
Officials closed the county’s Recycling and Education Center sorting facility in Grand Rapids on March 27 to limit workers’ exposure to COVID-19.
However, the county continued to accept recyclables from the city of Grand Rapids and neighboring counties, burning the material at its waste-to-energy facility, as MiBiz previously reported. Residents were encouraged to store their recyclables if possible.
County officials say residential drop-off sites in Plainfield Township and the Grand Rapids sorting facility will also reopen Monday. Earlier this week, the city of Grand Rapids reopened its yard waste drop-off facility after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer loosened some restrictions on her stay-home order.
“We thank residents who have stored their recyclables during the shutdown for their patience and commitment to recycling and reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills,” Kent County spokesperson Kristen Wieland said in a statement. “We encourage anyone with recyclables piling up in their garages to begin putting them out at the curb for collection now that we’re operating again.”
For the 40 employees at the Grand Rapids facility, the county Department of Public Works will pre-screen workers, increase cleaning at work stations, stagger work stations to meet social distancing rules and bolster personal protective gear as additional safety measures.
COVID-19 has disrupted recycling markets more broadly as facilities that process the materials also closed, limiting the ability to get recyclables to end users. Wieland said the county has confirmed that material collected and sorted will be accepted by processors.