A mask, glove and coverall-clad worker at Bill’s Bottle Depot checks the outside sorting racks after a recycling drop off on Thursday, March 26. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm bottle depot continues operation amid COVID-19 concerns

Workers required to wear protective gear, sanitization routine after drop offs

Concerns around COVID-19 are top of mind at Bill’s Bottle Depot.

A load of recyclables is sorted and, after the person dropping them off has driven away, two employees step out of the Salmon Arm recycling facility to check the grounds. One is armed with a spray bottle, both are clad in protective gear including gloves, glasses and masks. After cleaning, and making sure no materials are left outside, they return to the building.

This occurrence from Thursday, March 26, is now standard operating procedure at Bill’s.

Owner Tan Lee refers to the recycling depot as an essential service. At the same time, he recognizes it’s one where the risk of transmission is potentially high. To continue operation and reduce risk to staff and people using the depot, staff have been required to wear protective clothing, there’s a limit to the number of sorting carts in use, sorting tables inside have been reduced in number as well as separated with barriers between them, and a plastic sheet has been set up around the till, creating a barrier between those dropping off goods and those working at the depot.

Read more: Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

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Tan said the sorting tables are being sanitized after each use, and staff are social distancing, with the break room being used by one person at a time according to scheduling. Product being dropped off and they bags they’re put in are also being sanitized.

Also being considered is no contact system where people can sort and drop off items outside at Bill’s, and staff will have payment ready.

As of March 26, Lee said the number of people visiting the depot was down substantially compared to the same time last year. Plans to remain open are subject to change, be it on order from the province, or a decision by Cascades Recovery in the Lower Mainland to no longer receive materials.

“Cascades is where we ship or stuff,” said Lee. “If they close down, we don’t have any place to ship.”

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