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Trash Talk: How COVID-19 Is Affecting Peoria's Waste

PDC / AREA Disposal
The average Peoria area household is producing about five more pounds of trash per week during the COVID-19 pandemic, or about 45 pounds of trash per household. Much of the increase offsets a decrease in commercial waste, according to a PDC spokesman.

The average Peoria household is producing five more pounds of trash per week during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eric Shangraw, with the Peoria Disposal Company (PDC), said the average household usually generates about 40 pounds of trash per week, but now that figure is closer to 45 pounds.

Shangraw said the additional residential garbage mostly offsets a reduction in waste from restaurants and other businesses during coronavirus-related closures.

But PDC also is seeing more bulky waste items, like furniture and mattresses, line the curbs.

"We're just getting inundated with volume because people have been home, and of course, what are they doing? Cleaning out their basement and cleaning out their garage," he said. "When these special cleanups happen, we're just seeing massive amounts of stuff."

Shangraw said even more large items have been thrown out over the last month, after PDC temporarily suspended bulk pickup to wait for COVID-19 guidance.

Bulk items are once again being accepted on regularly scheduled pick up days, with haulers wearing personal protective equipment.

The pandemic also has boosted demand for some recycled materials.

"We have seen some rebounding in the cardboard area, because everybody is ordering stuff in the mail that comes to you in a cardboard box," Shangraw said.

He said while China has all but stopped buying recyclables from the United States, more paper mills are coming online, creating a market for cardboard specifically. That's on top of increased production of tissue products.

Shangraw said aluminum and plastics 1 and 2 also are doing well. That includes things like water bottles, with the lid attached. But glass is still going straight to the landfill. So are plastics 3 through 7, which includes single-use eating utensils and cups diners get with take-out.

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WCBU will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WCBU can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

Dana Vollmer is a reporter with WGLT. Dana previously covered the state Capitol for NPR Illinois and Peoria for WCBU.