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Return to Office Impacts Waste and Recycling Collection

Article-Return to Office Impacts Waste and Recycling Collection

David Lane/Union Leader automated waste collection manchester
Driver James Grandmaison empties a trash barrel on his run on Island Pond Road in Manchester in one of the city's new automated garbage trucks.
As America's workers return to the office, waste haulers are adjusting their collection routes to accommodate the rise in traffic.

As America's workers return to the office, waste haulers are adjusting their collection routes to accommodate the rise in traffic.

A new white paper from the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), titled "The Impact Noise Ordinances Have on Waste and Recycling Collection Hours" provides insight into the noise regulation considerations of route optimization.

"Regardless of how a municipality determines what is right for its residents when it comes to protecting them from unreasonable noise and limiting disruptions to their lives, government officials must keep in mind that any restrictions they impose should be clear and easy to comply with," the organization states.

Officials should be mindful about how noise ordinances are written, which should create a "level of certainty" when it comes to compliance and reduce penalties for haulers. The NWRA points to municipalities such as New York City, which updated it noise codes to specifically address waste and recycling collection vehicles. 

The report highlights the industry's drive to upgrade its fleets from reducing refuse vehicle emissions to improving safety and efficiency and noise generation.

"The waste and recycling industry is cognizant that even with these improvements there needs to be some restrictions in place to protect the communities that it serves," the NWRA states. "Such ordinances, however, must be practical, reflect the different natures of the various areas being serviced and balance the competing needs of the community."

While specific decibel levels and distances have been included in noise ordinances around the country, many cities and communities fail to address waste and recycling collection. For example, Albuquerque, New Mexico's noise ordinance is set between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. MT, but waste and recycling is not mentioned within the code.

Labor shortages across the United States continue to stifle waste and recycling industry efforts to boost the number of drivers it currently has employed. With state and federal restrictions on shift lengths, haulers must optimize their routes to avoid peak traffic hours, where noise ordinances are more likely to be violated.

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