SOCRRA to keep appointment-only policy at drop-off center

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published June 24, 2021

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OAKLAND COUNTY — While much of Michigan is returning to business as usual — or however close we can get to that — others are keeping their COVID-19 restrictions in place into the future.

Count the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority in that lot. While the recycling and waste management facility has been back up and running since July, it will continue to limit on-site drop-offs from customers in its service territory.

Before, customers in participating municipalities could bring unusual items directly to the drop-off center in Troy at any time during business hours to be recycled or safely disposed of, including hazardous waste and other bulky items not acceptable for curbside pickup.

“Some of our changes started because of COVID-19, but it also gave us a chance to look at things,” said Colette Farris, the organization development manager at SOCRRA. “We started doing appointments as soon as the shutdown lifted, and we’re still doing those. And we’re doing our offsite disposal events.”

Since SOCRRA instituted its appointment-only policy last summer, Farris said the center has typically scheduled 100 people daily.

They’ve also ramped up the number of off-site collection events hosted in various communities, essentially bringing the drop-off center right to residents.

But in recent weeks, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has scrapped all previous mandates created to mitigate the spread of the virus during the height of the pandemic. Asked why SOCRRA won’t return to its pre-COVID-19 operations format, Farris said the facility solved a lot of previously existing problems by cutting down public traffic.

“At our facility, we have trucks bringing in materials all day, and it’s always been a problem for them to get around people coming in and out of the drop-off center,” she said.

In a statement on SOCRRA’s website, General Manager Jeff McKeen echoed that.

“For years, the additional traffic (cars and foot traffic) from the Recycling Drop-off center has been problematic, bordering on unsafe conditions for both our workers and the public. … The decision to manage traffic at the site by requiring scheduled appointment times for dropping off recyclables, household hazardous waste and electronics has greatly reduced these issues, making it more efficient and safer to accomplish SOCRRA’s primary function of managing the materials collected at your curbside,” McKeen’s statement reads. “So although some of the initial operational changes were a result of mandates related to COVID, ultimately, SOCRRA — like most businesses — also took this time to address historic issues and streamline our operations.”

The facility has “tweaked” its appointment management system since it was first introduced last year, allowing residents to book a time slot two weeks out or sooner. Same day or next day appointments are released periodically as well.

“There is some availability to schedule, even if it’s not in the timeframe someone might want,” Farris said in an email. “So although residents do not have continuous access at any time of day, the same services are available and our costs to provide these services have not gone down.”

Farris added that alternative sites have partnered with SOCRRA to collect refuse from drop-off customers. For a list of those sites and more information, visit socrra.org.

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