PARKSVILLE -- The Parksville Bottle and Recycle Depot has seen double the amount of people it normally serves after it reopened its doors in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have parking space for up to 20 vehicles and we are seeing vehicles right to the roadway, sometimes 50 vehicles at a time,” said Louise Tyler, president of the Parksville Bottle & Recycle Depot.

Tyler believes two things are driving up the demand: people are drinking more since the pandemic began and other stores that typically accept empties are not recycling at this time.

Changes have been made at the Parksville facility to increase safety and encourage physical distancing.

New procedures includes doing all recycle sorting outside, increasing the number of optional bags and empty trays to 12 for customers and requiring face coverings for all staff.

As of next Monday, the recycling centre will also be mandating that all customers wear face coverings while inside their facility.

“It just helps us maintain the safety of our staff and the community,” said Tyler about the upcoming changes. “With the increase of people out vacationing and on beaches and stuff we felt that this was our next step.”

The bottle depot is also seeing an increase in impatient customers who are not taking a liking to the new safety protocols put in place.

“We just ask that the customers be kind – which the majority of them are – like 97 per cent, but it’s a challenge for that 3 per cent,” said Tyler.