Trash, recycling pickup delays are not just a problem in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A driver shortage and an increase in trash volume are just some of the issues contributing to pickup delays, according to the Philadelphia Streets Department.

Other surrounding areas, including Burlington County, are also reporting similar problems.

"My recycle bins are filled by that time they come around," Doriann Swern of Mount Laurel.

Burlington County officials acknowledge recycling pickup is delayed across every municipality.

"I actually called the township twice- had a hard time getting somebody on the phone, and then when I finally did- they told us I just had to check the website," Eric Weiss of Mount Laurel.

The new collection date for Mount Laurel posted on the county website is next Monday into Tuesday.

A spokesman with the county said, "We understand and share the frustrations of our residents about the delays, but the truck driver shortage has created a lot of challenges beyond our control."

"A lot of times we take it down to the yard to get rid of it ourselves- so we try to help out," said Charlotte Bruno of Mount Laurel.

Bruno added, "Last week, we had garbage pickup from Ewing, so I don't know what's going on with that either."

Burlington County is working with its contractor to hire more staff to pick up the pace.

Keith Warren, the Deputy Commissioner of the Streets Department, said, "First, I want to apologize for the delayed service."

He says trash production across the city is way up because more people are staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are experiencing a 30% increase in volume due to the pandemic. That equates to an additional day of trash collection," said Warren.

The city is also struggling to hire enough garbage truck drivers or collectors.

"Right now in the industry, CDL (commercial driver's license) drivers are like a unicorn, and so it is very difficult," said Warren.

While they work to pick up the pace of collections, city officials have created six locations that are called Citizen Convenience Centers for Recycling and Trash. They are areas fenced in and full of dumpsters.

Residents are encouraged to drop off their waste at these locations.

However, some Fairmount neighbors simply want a solution.

"Please get on this. Just follow a schedule," said resident Dorith Hakim.

"It's OK if they're not going to pick up the trash, just give us a discount on the taxes," said resident Jason Woodruff.

But Philadelphia isn't alone in this dilemma. It's something many municipalities across the Delaware Valley are experiencing-- like Collingswood, Camden County.

Mayor Jim Maley says the company they've contracted with hasn't been coming at all sometimes.

"We got a 'We're not coming in today. We're not sure when we're going to be able to come back in again.' And it just left it up to us. They just can't get people to staff it," said Maley.

So Collingswood created its own borough-run collection crew. The mayor says it's starting to work.

"We've rented trucks, hired some people and we've been working to pick up trash. We can't leave it to this kind of haphazard uncertainty," said Maley.

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