Recycling in the “New Normal”

Essential Services Now Includes Recycling

by | Jun 5, 2020

The last few months have not been what anyone would have expected at the start of 2020. “A world upside down,” “the new normal,” “social distancing,” “toilet paper shortage,” “ventilator,” and other rarely-heard phrases have taken over our conversations.

Many daily activities have suspended, replaced by figuring out how to work remotely, teach children at home, and understand the different messages about the Covid-19 pandemic so we find our own best practices. And every day we learn more about the tragic number of people who have died and think about the families that mourn them.

During a crisis, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is responsible for deciding what services are essential will continue to operate. So there are some constants in our lives – streets are cleaned, traffic laws enforced, and garbage is regularly collected. 

Through the uncertainty, M-PASS remains on the leading edge of change in the recycling and waste management industry as we see how the future of recycling will be affected by this pandemic. M-PASS will also maintain their high level of service and continue to work with clients to achieve the best outcome for them (keep reading to see what M-PASS customers are saying).


While it might make sense that recycling might not be a priority right now, the opposite is true. In an April 30, 2020 article “COVID-19 Pandemic Reveals True Importance of Recycling and the Supply Chain,” Waste 360 reports on a webinar earlier that month. In “The Recycling Industry and the Supply Chain During a Pandemic,” hosted by the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), participants included representatives from KW Plastics, Pratt Industries (paper), Greif (industrial packaging), the Glass Packaging Institute, and the Can Manufacturers Institute. These manufacturers were concerned about their ability to get enough recyclable material to continue, and possibly even increase, their normal levels of production.

A combined effort resulted in Homeland Security modifying its essential services guidance to designate recycling an essential service as part of the manufacturing supply chain. (COVID-19 Pandemic Reveals True Importance of Recycling and the Supply Chain,” Waste 360, April 30, 2020).

Recyclable material increased in importance during another time of conflict. When the U.S. entered World War II, President Roosevelt charged Americans to become active on the Home Front. He asked students and teachers to collect scrap metal, tin, rags, rubber, and paper. These materials were used in the U.S. war effort, and became a key part of the supply chain.

Now this year, which marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WW II, recycling’s importance to the supply chain is seen again.  What will recycling and waste management look like in the “new normal”?  There is no clear answer to that yet, but what is clear is that M-PASS Environmental is always looking ahead and anticipating changes. At first notice of the effects of the pandemic in Georgia, M-PASS proactively reached out to clients to see if their needs – in service frequency, for example – were changing.

Since 2006, the team at M-PASS has set the standard as a waste and recycling cost-reduction consulting company. The team’s early ability to deliver consistent savings to customers – large and small – established its solid reputation, which is also based on quality service and knowledge of sustainability.

M-PASS was designed to be a rapid-response company, small enough to be able to respond quickly without having to go through cumbersome layers of approvals. At the same time, they have the expertise, experience, and capacity to take on even the most daunting challenges. This lean, nimble operation continues to provide a ready, effective response to client needs.

We checked in with a few M-PASS clients to find out what new challenges they’re facing as well as to offer support for any necessary changes.

Since residents were spending more time at home, it’s no surprise that Community Associations managers at large multi-family residential developments like the Colony House Condominium face the potential of increased amounts of recalling. Their programs, already sometimes challenged by the number of residents in their properties, would need to be ready for increased volume.

Tim Huffman at Colony House Condominium Association said that service to his property has continued as usual during the covid-19 crisis, but he anticipates needing extra pickups due to the increased volume of glass recycling. Since M-PASS helped develop his properties’ glass and other recycling programs, they were well-prepared to help.

Another Community Association Manager, Sarah Hohwald, at Silverleaf Management, responded, “Our service has been seamless throughout. This is important since so many people have been home more than usual, and we’ve seen an increase in the amount of cardboard in the recycling bins.” She added that M-PASS had been especially helpful since they found an easy way to access her various properties in areas with high traffic levels. “They cut our costs and it’s nice that I have a person to talk to rather than an “800” number.”

In the service industry, as we know, speed and personal contact matters

Bruce Enslow of Peach State Management added, “I’ve been in the business for 12 years, and before that I never questioned how garbage went away. Out of all the things I have to deal with, our recycling and waste management is probably the easiest. When it’s time for new bids, new contracts, or anything to do with our service, I make one call – to M-PASS. It takes a lot off my plate.”

M-PASS’s ability to quickly handle challenges and tailor solutions to fit clients’ needs is one of the important elements of our style of customer service.

Yovy Gonzalez from FS Residential also commented on the benefits of M-PASS’s tight operating structure, “They are very responsive; small enough they can tailor solutions to fit your needs.”

Leo Mulligan, Director of Facilities at the Druid Hills Golf Club, was pleased when M-PASS suggested that his company should buy their own compactor rather than continuing to lease an old, inefficient one. “M-PASS takes the time to look at your set-up and make recommendations which generally end up in saving us money. Their personal touch is really important.”

Susan Kidd, Director of Sustainability at Agnes Scott College in Decatur captured the value of M-PASS’ work. “This work is important – now more than ever. It’s not just about moving big bins around … it’s about diverting lots of materials that can be used again from landfills. Most people don’t realize how important it is to get it right. M-PASS gets it.”

“We are proud of our quality of service our M-PASS team provides, and grateful for the support of our clients,” said M-PASS’s Lorraine White. “We are ready for what comes next.”

Share This