Meet Antwerp's waste heroes
Different sectors are essential to keep society running during these strange corona times. One of them is the waste industry. And we're not just talking about the waste collectors or street sweepers. Waste processors also play a significant role in society.
Antwerp waste processing company ISVAG coined the term "vuilnishelden" ("waste heroes") to support their employees during these difficult time.
We teamed up with ISVAG to let these waste heroes tell their own story. First up: Johan and Dirk, both operators.
Johan (46), operator
“In my opinion, waste processing plays an important role in our society, especially in this difficult period because we must make sure that the corona crisis will not lead to an environmental crisis. So in some way we feel very proud that we can still work and play this important role, but at the same time we are anxious about the uncertainty that the future will bring. Our daily contacts with the waste collectors are also completely different now. We want to put our own safety and theirs first, but social distancing still has a negative impact on the mental health of us as human beings.
Extra appreciation is certainly welcome, so if we would see more of those notes mentioning waste heroes on social media, this would certainly be fun. The garbage collectors see those notes hanging from the windows but unfortunately we don’t. I myself try to keep up the courage by cycling a lot by myself and hopefully with my teammates very soon.
Finally a message to the outside world: ISVAG processes your waste in this very difficult time and monitors the emissions 24/7, hopefully this will be appreciated. Furthermore, I wish everyone a good health because that's the most important thing at this time.”
Dirk (41), operator
"We notice that the volume of household waste is on the rise, which makes sens given that most people work from home. The children are also at home, many people have meals delivered and the recycling parks were closed for a few weeks, which also increased the volume. All this shows that waste processing remains essential so people don't have to be stuck at home with their waste.
At work this whole crisis creates a different atmosphere. The topic of discussion these days is always Covid-19. We don't hear anything else on the radio and personally I find this very tiring and even stressful. Fortunately, we can have a laugh once in a while and I notice that somewhere we are all proud that waste processing is a vital sector. I also notice this when talking to the waste collectors, they now also feel that people appreciate them more and also find it an advantage that there is less traffic on the road. Our sector is no longer taken for granted and that's nice to know.
At home we also try to make the best of it, for example, I have already given my children the present that was planned for their communion so they can play with it after their online homework;
Finally, I would like to pass on the following message to the citizens of Antwerp: I sincerely hope that everyone, even after this period, will continue to enjoy the little things (the family, a simple walk, board games,...). Now it's "of necessity" for many people, but I hope that this will happen later and permanently of their own free will".
Text by Cleo Klapholz
Pics by ISVAG