No end in sight for recycling suspension in Jacksonville

City says complaints have gone down, but some residents still experiencing issues with trash, yard waste collection

There is no end in sight for the suspension of curbside recycling pickup in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is no end in sight for the suspension of curbside recycling pickup in Jacksonville.

During a special meeting Thursday at City Hall about where things stand since the city paused recycling three months ago, Jacksonville City Council members learned that between the city and the three private haulers who handle trash pickup, they are short about 35 drivers.

Staffers in the mayor’s office said that if they were to resume recycling service, there would be more complaints about missed pickup of garbage, yard waste and recycling like there were before recycling was suspended.

“If you all pass a resolution saying we don’t care about it, bring curbside back, we’ll do it next week,” said Brian Hughes, the city’s chief administrative officer. “And then a week later, your garbage, yard waste and trash will be back in the thousands of missed collections rather than the hundreds.”

PREVIOUS STORIES: City leaders meeting to discuss status of solid waste pickup, recycling | Trash still piling up in pockets of Jacksonville | I-TEAM digs into Jacksonville’s contracts with trash haulers | I-TEAM: Councilman plans for City Hall meeting to address recycling drop-off issues

It has been suggested that the city should refund a portion of the garbage fee, which would be about $24 per household, but that will not happen. The city is actually spending more to recycle than what residents pay in fees.

One suggestion is to do away with the entire $152 garbage fee each household pays every year and take that money out of the regular city budget to pay for recycling and other pickups. That would require the approval of the Jacksonville City Council.

Another item discussed was the notion that the containers at the drop-off sites were not being recycled but going directly to the landfill. That is not the case. The problem is some people are still throwing in things that are not recyclable — regular garbage that contaminates the entire bin and then it has to go to the landfill.

Some members of the public were at the meeting and suggested having representatives at the recycling drop-off sites to make sure proper things are being dropped off.

RELATED: Jacksonville adds 15th recycling drop-off location

During the meeting, it was reported that complaints have gone down since recycling has stopped. But Paige Hunt spoke up at the end of the meeting, saying she has complained since Dec. 1 that her garbage has been ignored. She showed City Council members that garbage trucks have driven by her home on Rio Grande Avenue in the Westside’s Paxon area several times and ignored the piles of trash.

“So the trash is still there over a month to the point that we are having animal problems and it’s causing an issue,” Hunt said.

At the meeting, Will Williams, chief of the city’s Solid Waste Division, heard what Hunt was saying and told News4JAX that he was going to go there Thursday and to come along. When he arrived, he found bags and bags of trash. The hauler also arrived and began to take care of the problem.

“I’m not sure if it was missed because today was the service day. A lot of it just looks like it was put out wrong,” Williams said. “It’s not in cans. A lot of this was just thrown out.”

He continued: “I’m not sure if that has been for weeks simply because today is the service day and I don’t see anything that indicates week.”

But Hunt had time-stamped pictures showing just how long it’s been there

“While I am grateful that my specific issue has been resolved, it still does not resolve the overall problem for the city of missed collections,” Hunt said. “And it’s just not getting done.”

And that was the point of Thursday’s meeting — to learn what is actually happening. City Councilman Matt Carlucci put it together.

“We all wanted to hear more about what’s being done to solve the problem — not just the same old stuff, different day,” Carlucci said.

Two more town hall meetings are planned in the near future to discuss the collection woes.

Despite recycling suspension, some yard waste not picked up

While Jacksonville put recycling on hold to catch up on trash and yard waste, some Westside residents say their yard waste hasn’t been picked up in weeks.

Kimberly Anderson, who lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood, said she made a pile of yard waste three weeks ago and hasn’t heard anything from the city about when it will get picked up.

“How do you miss a pile that almost goes into my neighbor’s yard?” Anderson said. “I have contacted the city multiple times. They said they would put in that there’s been a missed pickup.”

At Thursday’s meeting, city leaders said yard waste collection was going well.

“You will see there is a very steady decline in miss collections from three- to four-thousand to 100,” Hughes said. “It’s absolutely certain that in the current environment that if we bring curbside back, you will see the missed collections skyrocket.”

Anderson said she’s one of the 100 missed collections.

“Very frustrating,” Anderson said. “I’m going to keep bugging them until they come and pick it up.”

In the past three weeks, there have been two holidays, but Anderson said her normal pickup day would have been Wednesday and the pile remained as of Thursday.

News4JAX knocked on doors where there were other piles of yard waste on the curb and bags falling into the road in Hyde Park. Neighbors want to know when they’ll get picked up.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.

A Florida girl and North Carolina A&T SU grad who thrives in breaking news.