JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Problems with trash pickup are making it harder for thousands of people around Northeast Florida to go green with curbside recycling.
The city of Jacksonville is about to bring in a new company to handle trash and recycling in some parts of Jacksonville.
Right now, Republic Services picks up the recycling bins in Northwest Jacksonville and across parts of the Northside and Arlington. But, by the end of the month, another company, Meridian, will take over.
Next to overflowing trash bins and piles of yard waste in Northwest Jacksonville are recycling bins that residents say have yet to be picked up by the city.
Clifton Sanders lives in Northwest Jacksonville and says his street’s pickup has been delayed for weeks.
“Recycle has been a little late being picked up. In the last two weeks, they’ve been picking up recycle regularly, and the trash, they haven’t picked it up in over a month,” Sanders said.
Republic Services was contracted by the city to handle residential solid waste pickup in parts of the city, including Sanders’ neighborhood.
The city says hiring and keeping employees has been a problem. The city gave News4Jax the number of recycling pickup complaints it has received in the last six months across the city — about 1,700 in April, then 3,400 in May, around 1,000 each in June and July, with a spike in August of more than 4,600 complaints. And halfway through the month of September, there are already more than 3,500 complaints about recycling pickup across Jacksonville.
The city has confirmed that Meridian will be taking over pickups in the Republic Services territory at the end of the month.
News4Jax got this statement from Republic Services:
“Republic Services of Jacksonville is experiencing some temporary delays with yard and bulk waste collections in our service area within Duval County. We appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience during this time.
“Many industries are facing staffing challenges at this time, and the environmental services industry is no different. We are carefully monitoring the needs of our customers and communities with the supply and availability of our talent and adjusting our efforts to attract, engage and retain talent accordingly.
“We are always recruiting and hiring great people to join our team, and offer a competitive salary, generous benefits, paid vacation, safety bonuses, and numerous career advancement opportunities. For more information, please visit https://republicservices.jobs.”
Jacksonville isn’t alone when it comes to challenges with recycling.
St. Augustine Beach announced Thursday that it will temporarily suspend residential recycling pickups on Monday, Oct. 4. The last week of pickups will be the last week in September. The city also blames unprecedented labor shortages and is working to bring the recycling program in-house.
Clay County has also faced challenges with recycling. It suspended curbside recycling in much of the county in mid-August. The county told News4Jax that it is in touch with its contractor, Waste Management, once a month, but the company is still dealing with staffing issues.
Waste Management sent News4Jax this statement:
“Currently Clay County is the only location Waste Management has suspended curbside recycling collection in an effort to direct our resources to garbage and yard waste service. Unfortunately, like many industries, environmental services are being impacted by the nationwide labor shortage. To specifically address labor shortages, we have:
“Improved Compensation: Increasing pay, offering sign-on and retention bonuses and employee referral bonuses
“Offered Innovative Employee Benefits: In collaboration with Guild Education, we’re offering the first-of-its-kind program providing WM employees, as well as their eligible dependents, the opportunity to choose from a full range of education options, including earning a college degree, at no cost to the employee
“Ramped-up our Training Centers: Increasing in-person class sizes (reduced due to COVID) to train more new drivers more quickly, while still adhering to all proper safely protocols
“We truly apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate our customers understanding as we work through these extraordinary circumstances so we can return to our regular collection service.”
Meridian Waste also shared a statement:
Thank you for reaching out to Meridian Waste in regards to the contract transition with the City of Jacksonville. Meridian Waste is gearing up and will be ready to service the City’s Area II franchise area as of Friday, October 1. The temporary rental trucks are all secured, the permanent collection vehicles ordered and are in the manufacturing phase, CDL drivers and helper have been hired and are undergoing safety and route training, and for residential customers who will experience a service day change in their collection days (approximately 5% of those who we will be servicing), Meridian Waste has mailed notification postcards listing the new service days which should be hitting mailboxes this week.
Meridian Waste is excited our partnership with the City’s and will work closely with the City’s solid waste staff to address any specific areas of concerns and any amassed volumes that may have accumulated in the service area prior to Meridian Waste’s contract start. It’s all hands on deck as we prepare for this opportunity to service the citizens of Jacksonville, and our commitment to a clean and healthy community is resolute!