Impacts of COVID-19 on Transfer Station Operations



Since waste management was declared an essential service, the Southold Town Transfer Station facility in Cutchogue has operated relatively normally since the start of the pandemic.  While certain procedures have been modified to minimize physical interaction between staff and users, the acceptance of household garbage and recyclables, construction debris, and yard waste has continued without interruption.  Procedures for some transactions at the vehicle scales have been altered to limit the use of cash and credit cards and users at the “yellow bag” and recycling floor are kept at social distance from the attendant’s booth.  However, the facility is and has been open for normal operating hours (7 am – 5 pm daily) for the acceptance of most materials.   

Operations that have not resumed include:

•    In-office transactions.  As with other Town offices, the Transfer Station office trailer is closed to the public until further notice.  The trailer has three staff and is not large enough to accommodate visitors while keeping social distancing. Customers who prefer paying their bills in person may drop payments through the mail slot in the front door.  Those looking to buy Town garbage bags should use the vending machine by the recycling attendant’s booth.

•    The Re-Use area.   This popular weekend facility where usable items may be left and taken remains closed and prospects for re-opening soon are questionable.  The protocols and procedures that would need to be implemented would make it difficult to operate the facility as intended.  Aside from the obvious PPE and social distancing requirements in a confined area, things like attendance limits, time limits, risks from handling items, involvement of staff assisting users, providing sanitizer, managing lines of people on foot and in vehicles, restricting non-resident users, etc . (with the one staff person available to manage the facility)  all need to be addressed.    

Of course, the following steps must be taken by all users:

1)     The wearing of masks/face covers is REQUIRED for ANYONE who gets out of their vehicle.

2)    Follow social distancing guidelines when outside, i.e., don’t linger closer than 6 feet to staff or other users.

3)    PLEASE have your recyclables sorted properly BEFORE you get to the facility (i.e., “3-Stream”:  1-cans and plastic CONTAINERS; 2- CLEAN mixed paper and cardboard; 3-Glass.  Having this done before coming to the facility will speed your visit through the station and limit the length of lines that have been experienced almost daily since the start of the pandemic.  The idea is to get in and out quickly.