JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Curbside recycling pickup in Jacksonville is possible again -- at least for now -- because the city has the workers it needs, city officials said Monday.
Monday marked the return of recycling after the city suspended the service for six months to allow workers to catch up on a solid waste backlog.
People off Yellow Bluff Road were among the first to get their recyclable items picked up Monday. It happened shortly after 9 a.m.
Francisco Sandoval, who lives in the Oceanway area, hasn’t had recycling since he moved to Jacksonville last year.
“It would go out with the regular trash,” Sandoval said. “So it’s kind of cool that they’re back picking it up.”
Issues with staffing led to the suspension, but as of Monday, the staffing is there to resume recycling, according to the city.
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News4JAX on Monday spoke with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who pointed out the coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted labor but said the city now has the workers it needs.
“We can’t predict exactly what labor is going to look like in the months and years ahead. We can tell you is today, we have what need to resume curbside recycling and continue yard waste and garbage pickup,” Curry said. “We’re now fully staffed in a position where we can do all: recycling, yard waste and garbage.”
Solid waste collection is handled by the city, as well as three private hauling companies. The city raised pay for solid waste workers across the board in August, with some workers receiving a nearly 45% raise to $16-$50 an hour.
On Friday, an official at Waste Management told News4JAX it was short about half a dozen drivers. It said it’s planning to raise pay 33% from the start of the pandemic and is offering $5,000 sign-on bonuses.
News4JAX on Monday also asked Will Williams, chief of the Solid Waste Division, about the number of people -- particularly on the Westside -- who’ve said they still have solid yard waste sitting in front of their homes.
“We know that one of the haulers is still challenged with hiring people. But today, they are fully staffed -- today -- to make sure they get recycle, yard waste and garbage,” Williams responded. “They’re fully staffed today doesn’t mean they’re going to be fully staffed a month from now.”
Even though curbside recycling was suspended for six months, residents were still paying for it for that time frame. Williams and the mayor said reimbursements just aren’t possible because they would put the city back where it started. But the mayor also said he doesn’t foresee fees increasing either.
As part of the rollout, curbside recycling is beginning in different areas on different days. Service will be once every two weeks, so not everyone’s recycling will be picked up during the first week.
With the resume of curbside recycling, the city is also reminding people that their recycling pickup day may have changed. Residents can call 904-630-CITY (2489) to find out what day recycling will resume in their area. Or, if you go to MyJax and enter your address on the map, it will tell you when your scheduled recycling day is, as well as your scheduled trash and yard waste pickup.
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The same items -- such as glass, paper and cardboard -- will still be able to be recycled for now. That could change later this year after Jacksonville City Council members come up with new recommendations.
For now, you can find a full list of which items will be recycled and which will not -- along with a list of other rules for trash, bulk items and yard waste -- here.