Waste and recycling workers appreciation week starts June 14

Waste and recycling workers are going to be honored for their work on the week of June 14 and here’s how you can show your appreciation.

Prince William County residents, businesses, and organizations are encouraged to celebrate National Waste and Recycling Workers Week, from June 14-20, 2020, according to Deborah Campbell, a communications analyst in a media release. Formerly known as “National Garbage Man Day”, the idea came from John Arwood, an owner of a waste and recycling collection company in Florida.

Campbell goes on to provide a history of how the appreciation week came about.

 “The event officially started in 2013. According to an article published in Waste Advantage, May 2017, Arwood notes that the day was recognized with its first announcement by Prince William County, VA in 2014.”

Campbell states with hundreds of announcements later, the day was rebranded in 2020 to become National Waste and Recycling Workers Week. Although the name has changed to better represent the whole solid waste industry, the focus of appreciation and celebration of the entire industry has not changed at all.

Having the event extend to a week instead of a day gives communities, companies, and organizations more time to recognize the importance of solid waste management industry and particularly their trash and recycling collectors’ vital contributions to public health, according to Campbell.

Campbell says trash and recycling collection are a critical and essential service to the coronavirus pandemic. The men and women working in the waste and recycling industry are on the frontlines protecting human health and the environment.

In addition to collecting trash, the employees of the solid waste industry are also pioneers in advancing technologies such as recycling, renewable and sustainable energy, and fossil fuels dependence reduction, according to Campbell.

Even though the annual celebratory recognition of collection company employees at the landfill is not possible, Campbell provides ways that residents and businesses can show support and appreciation during the week event:

  • Slow down and pay extra attention when approaching or passing a collection vehicle.
  • Wave to your collector (keep six feet distance) to show your awareness and appreciation of their efforts.
  • Follow the provided guidelines for size and weight limitations and types of materials discarded in the regular trash and recycling bins.
  • Properly dispose of hazardous materials, do not put them in the trash.
  • Use more caution when putting harmful items in the trash such as glass or hot ashes.
  • Consider ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle the things at home, school and work instead of throwing them in the garbage.
  • Express thanks and appreciation with a chalk drawing on the sidewalk or driveway, or a cardboard sign, banner taped to your trash cart/can.
  • Give the landfill attendants an air “high five”.

Campbell also states other tips to keep the workers safe during the coronavirus crisis:

  • Wash your hands before putting your waste containers out for collection. Sanitize or wipe handles and lids to further reduce exposure.
  • Make sure all trash is in a bag and bags are securely closed.
  • Do not set bags outside the cart.
  • Do not “spring clean” at this time. Collection workers are working harder and more carefully right now, sometimes with fewer people. Do not add to the waste by cleaning garages, attics, closets, basements, etc.
  • Grass cycle– leave grass clippings on the lawn instead of bagging them to reduce the need for yard waste collection and fertilize naturally.


To learn more about National Waste and Recycling Workers Week, and how you can show your support, go wasterecyclingworkersweek.org. You can also send your celebration ideas and photos to pwcrecycles@pwcgov.org.

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