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Town Trash Services Work To Adapt To Coronavirus Pressures

Courtesty of Wilmington, Mass.

The city of Concord is suspending its pay-as-you-throw trash program during the COVID-19 pandemic, as other cities seek to limit traffic at their transfer stations and recycling centers.

The change starts April 20 and will run until a week after the governor's stay-at-home order ends. Concord residents won't have to buy new city bags during this period and can use any bag for trash pickup.

Other cities and towns have continued their pay-as-you-throw programs, but say they’ll work individually with residents who may have trouble procuring bags with quarantine measures in place. 

The city of Dover says it's had to supply bags to some local grocery stores more often than in the past, to accommodate quarantine shopping habits. 

Dover officials also say they've seen heavy traffic at their recycling center, raising concerns about social distancing. A recent Saturday saw more than 600 cars at the facility, whereas a busy day before the pandemic would have had around 300 cars, according to the officials.

They say residents seem to be generating more trash with home cooking and maintenance projects – cleaning out garages, attics and yards.

Places like Lebanon are urging residents to use curbside trash pickup services as much as possible, even for bulky items, and to try to make fewer trips to the transfer station. 

Lebanon, Dover and other facilities are also putting social distancing measures in place at their waste facilities to protect residents and staff. Officials caution that it could mean longer wait times if residents come to drop off trash and recyclables. 

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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