JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry said Wednesday that the city of Jacksonville may temporarily suspend the pickup of recycling in order to devote resources limited by staff shortages to getting yard waste picked up.
This is in addition to using $4 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to help with the backlog of trash that’s been piling up in dozens of neighborhoods for several weeks.
Curry said the idea to prioritize yard waste over recycling has been presented to City Council committee and he expects a decision will be made within a week.
“If we do that, people will just have to put their recycling stuff in standard garbage pickup for a period of time,” Curry said. “We’ve got to deal with the yard waste and there doesn’t appear to be any daylight in the ability of the haulers to find the drivers and the manpower they need. Again, not a final decision, but we’re leaning heavily in that direction.”
Kimball Keller, who lives in Ortega, said she’s dealt with the issue for awhile.
“I would say for the last four or five months. It’s utterly ridiculous,” Keller said. “We don’t know when they are coming.”
Curry pointed out this problem is not unique to Jacksonville. Surrounding counties, the rest of the state and nation are also dealing with labor shortages in garbage and trash pickup.
“This is a national issue. This is a metropolitan area issue. There are shortages of drivers and we’re all just going to have to work through it,” Curry said.
Homeowners have become increasingly frustrated they are not getting the trash pickup they are paying for, to which Curry replies: “We’re doing everything we can.”
The I-TEAM found the city received more than 9,000 complaints about yard waste pickup delays in August. That’s nearly 700 more than the month before, adding up to more than 35,000 total since April.
In addition to the manpower shortage for all three of the companies, the city contracts for garbage, recycling and trash pickup, the city is in the process of replacing one of those contractors. The city didn’t renew its contract with Republic Services and Meridian Waste will take over its routes on Oct. 1.
The city is asking people to report problems they’re having with yard waste pickup. There are three ways to report the problem:
- MyJax app
- Call 904-630-CITY (2489)
The city has asked firefighters and other workers with commercial drivers licenses to work overtime to help fill in the gaps.