Balcones Resources COVID-19 Response & Plan of Action
In response to the current situation with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the City of Austin, Travis County, City of Dallas and Dallas County have issued orders to shelter in place. Based on these guidelines, which strongly encourage essential businesses to stay open, Balcones Resources will continue to operate while complying with Social Distancing Requirements to the greatest extent possible.
Recycling is a critical trade as outlined in the Shelter-in-Place Orders.
Balcones Resources provides services that are necessary to maintain the sanitation and operation of our local residences, essential businesses and government functions. Particularly as restaurants are mandated to provide food by takeout and delivery only, single-use containers are being utilized at a much greater rate, which could have a tremendous negative impact on our environment without proper recycling services in place. Our facilities keep these items out of landfills, protecting our environment and therefore our air quality.
Processing recyclables is an important first link in our country’s manufacturing supply chain
The recyclables processed by Balcones are critical to the manufacturing supply chain. Paper is used to make bathroom tissue and toweling, and cardboard is remanufactured to produce boxes for e-commerce. Plastics and household metals are critical to the production of containers for many consumer products used in cleaning and household maintenance, as well as food and beverage applications.
Balcones processes approximately 20,000 tons per month of materials that are critical to many companies who are recognized household brands——Kimberley Clark, Georgia Pacific, International Paper, Proctor and Gamble, Walmart, Amazon and others.
Recycling is necessary to maintain a healthy and sustainable natural environment.
A healthy environment is needed now more than ever, as people go outside to get clean, fresh air during this quarantine and once it ends. Without our cities’ recycling programs, harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released from waste in landfill sites, causing pollution and habitat destruction. The negative impacts of limiting or canceling recycling services would be long-lasting and difficult to reverse.
In March Balcones processed over 5,000 tons of material that came directly from City of Austin’s curbside recycling program. This material will be used to continue to make the products in which there is currently a shortage of within our region.
Balcones Resources is committed to the health and safety of our employees and those we serve.
We are working diligently to provide our services to the cities of Austin and Dallas, and we have developed a comprehensive strategy to mitigate against the risk of infection by our employees while onsite at each of our facilities, following the guidelines prescribed by the CDC, OSHA, local healthcare providers and community leaders .
1. Would any employees be considered at-risk from a health perspective if operations continue?
∙ The type of work performed at each of our facilities is considered very low risk for exposure as there is no need for close contact with coworkers or the public in any of the required tasks.
2. What are the health and safety precautions already in place at Balcones for those on the frontlines? (i.e. social distancing – staggering of collection shifts, breaks and huddles, etc.)
∙ We are following all health and safety precautions prescribed by the CDC and OSHA, supplemented by additional procedures developed in consultation with local authorities and public health professionals.
3. What are the sanitation practices already in place to keep employees clean / reduce exposure to Coronavirus and all the other germs, bacteria, etc. inherent to processing recyclables?
∙ Per guidelines prescribed by the CDC, OSHA, and other public health professionals, we are completing daily sanitation of individual employee workstations before and after each shift.
4. How are the robots Balcones uses reducing the exposure of workers to potentially infected items?
∙ The robots as well as all other automation in the MRF enable us to limit the number of employees required to operate the sorting system at any time. Our facility requires 50% of the total staff used at a facility of the same size.
5. The findings – published by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), CDC and multiple universities – indicate COVID-19 can live on materials such as cardboard and plastic, in some cases for as many as three days. What additional practices does Balcones have in place to address these risks? (i.e. some agencies are not collecting any loose items outside of bags or carts)
∙ Current guidance from the CDC and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says no additional precautions are needed for handling solid waste that might be infected beyond normal personal protective equipment (PPE) used for medical waste.
6. What percentage of recyclables processed at Balcones facilities are able to be repurposed into essential household items?
∙ 90% overall goes into household goods and 10% goes to commercial/industrial applications.