The rain didn’t stop the dozens of people who lined up outside a bottle redemption centre in Saint John on Tuesday.
As the province moved into phase two of its COVID-19 recovery plan, bottle depots across the province have started to reopen this week.
“They’re coming out in droves, they’re coming out in truckloads,” said Chris Taylor, owner of the Golden Mile Redemption Centre in Saint John.
Taylor has been in the business for 28 years and “knows a thing or two about counting bottles.”
I never thought I’d say this but I’m glad to be back at work.– Chris Taylor, owner of Golden Mile Redemption Centre
But the business owner has never seen anything like this.
His employees have been processing a large backlog of recycling that has been building since the start of the outbreak in March.
“Your seven- to eight-dollar orders are now 60-dollar orders,” he said. “You can really judge what people have been doing the last two months.”
John Stackhouse sat outside the building in a lawn chair waiting to cash in his $15 worth of empty bottles.
“I take the chair fishing with me,” he said. “So I figured it was in the truck I might as well use it.”
After the province ordered all non-essential businesses to close, Taylor spent about two months at home and didn’t see many people. And he’s grateful for his “new little bubble.”
“I never thought I’d say this but I’m glad to be back at work.”
In order to follow the Public Health guidelines, Taylor said he has reduced store hours, his employees are wearing protective gear such as masks and gloves, and everything gets scrubbed down.
“When a customer gets done at the table, the table is cleaned and the next customer is on their way up,” he said. “So we’ve got a good routine here.”
Taylor said only four customers are allowed inside the building at one time, so the waits can get a bit long outside. And he’s had to remind some customers to keep a six-foot distance from others.
“If everybody’s patient, we can get through this.”
WorkSafeNB has also been to the Saint John business to inspect and make sure operations are running accordingly.
“Nobody’s going to be perfect at this, but we’re trying,” Taylor said. “We’ve seen what grocery stores are doing and we’re trying to follow their lead.”