- In preparation for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, and the estimated 100,000 people heading to an event in Madras, OR to view it, local haulers have started adjusting their schedules to beat traffic. In addition to Madras, the eclipse is mainly affecting the Oregon communities of Bend, Redmond, Prineville and Sisters, as reported by KBND and The Bulletin.
- Companies such as Bend Garbage and Recycling, High Country Disposal, Cascade Disposal and Madras Sanitary Service have been working to notify customers of the change for many weeks. Some customers will be expected to place their material out at 4 a.m., instead of the usual 6 a.m. Others are being asked to put it out at 10 p.m. for overnight collection. Waste Management has also advised businesses expecting heavy foot traffic to give them at least 24 hours notice for higher collection volumes
- National, state and local officials are also preparing for an influx of waste and expected littering. Additional containers have been ordered, crews will be working full-time and the U.S. Forest Service has organized post-eclipse volunteer clean-ups, as reported by Fox 12.
NASA described the eclipse as a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience and coastal Oregon has become one of the top spots to witness it happen next week. A music festival in the area has only added to the draw, and local media reports indicate that the influx of traffic is well underway. In addition to disrupting usual collection operations, this will generate far more waste and recycling than these small cities and towns are used to.
These types of special circumstances are yet another example of how route managers and collection workers are expected to be versatile. Last month's heatwave prompted municipal and private collection operations to start earlier in Oregon, Washington, D.C. and Nebraska, among other locations. Snow storms also reliably affect collection schedules, especially in cities where sanitation workers handle the plowing.
As for the waste generated from out-of-towners, dealing with all of that may take longer. Handling waste from special events — as well as diverting it for recycling — is often a long and laborious process. Whether the event is an inauguration, a holiday or a festival, some amount of littering can be expected. Government officials will be pushing the "pack in, pack out" mentality to help avert environmental damage to plant, animal or marine life while the public comes to witness this astral phenomenon.