ACTION NEWS JAX INVESTIGATES: Trash piles up in Clay County neighborhood

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Action News Jax investigates a weeks-long backlog of waste pickup in Clay county.

“It smelled like rotten sewer, it was stagnant grass sitting there getting wet and rotting,” Denise Gussler said.

That’s the smell Middleburgh neighbor Denise Gussler described her street after three weeks of yardwork piled up.

At one point, she thought about taking care of it herself.

“Why should we take care of something that we are paying for?” Gussler said. “This money comes out of our tax money to be taken care of.”

STORY: How to contact leaders in Duval, Clay counties for trash pick-up issues

She wasn’t the only one dealing with this issue. Action News Jax received emails about yard waste in the Orange Park area collecting for weeks.

Clay County told Action News Jax it’s received about 15 complaints per day regarding the issue, saying their contract hauler, Waste Management, has been dealing with staffing issues at the same time of increased yard waste.

In a statement to Action News Jax, Clay County said:

“Clay County’s contracted waste hauler, Waste Management, has been running behind on the collection of yard waste (and to a much lesser degree some garbage and recycling), in the unincorporated areas of Clay County and the City of Keystone Heights due to unexpected staffing shortages at Waste Management and large volumes of yard waste placed curbside from spring yard work. The Clay County Environmental Services Department has been communicating daily with Waste Management and is working to resolve the problem.

Of the approximately 68,000 homes in Clay County, the average weight of yard trash disposed per household in winter (Nov. & Dec.) is about 27 pounds. The springtime (Mar. & Apr.) average increases 130% to 64 pounds per household.

Not only does the volume of yard waste increase significantly, the number of collection stops rises by about 15%. In spring, crews often stop at 850-900 of every 1,000 homes on average compared to most of the year when crews will collect from about 600-700 homes on a typical week.

This increase in yard waste and staffing shortages due to the inability to get temporary labor caused a backlog of up to 3 weeks for yard waste collection in some areas of the county.

The County has placed a priority on servicing garbage first, recycling second and yard waste last. Waste Management has been fairly consistently finishing garbage and recycling routes daily, with only an occasional missed service. For those who did not receive service for garbage or recycling, we have asked people to report these missed services at Clay County’s customer service portal at https://myservices.claycountygov.com/ to document and report the missed collection service.

As for yard waste, we have asked them to leave their yard waste on the curb and it will be collected as soon as possible. During this shortfall, we have received approximately 15 complaints per day through the portal for garbage and recycling.

In an all-hands-on-deck approach to collect the backlog of yard waste, Waste Management brought in 25 people from other areas and are running 2-3 extra trucks each day. They have also hired third-party contractors with four grapple trucks to assist with yard waste collection routes. They also recently hired 24 temporary labors to pick up the waste.

Additionally, there is a clause in our contract with Waste Management that allows the county to secure other contractors if there is no collection service for 5 consecutive days.

On day 6 of not collecting yard waste, the County arranged to lease four trucks from the City of Green Cove Springs to help ease the yard waste burden by augmenting routes on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. County staff from Public Works rode on the steps and loaded yard waste.

While County staff from Environmental Services drove the routes to coordinate asset usage. Waste Management will be charged for the equipment and operators.

We are using Green Cove Springs trucks again today and this weekend, if necessary, to collect all of the remaining yard debris.

Clay County is also offering free residential yard waste drop off at the Rosemary Hill Solid Waste Management Facility April 14-28.”

The county tells Action News Jax that most, if not all, of the yard waste, should be picked up by the end of the week.

Action News Jax also told you about issues with trash pickup in Duval County. You can read that story by clicking HERE.

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