Clay County considers keeping recycling drop-off sites, other options to fix trash trouble

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Recycling drop-off sites in Jacksonville closed Thursday night for good as the city prepares to bring back curbside services next week. But Clay County could keep the drop-off sites for a couple more years.

During this month’s county commission meeting, a representative for Waste Management explained the company is still struggling to recruit and retain staff.

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The contractor needs a total of 42 employees to bring back curbside recycling, but only has a total of 27.

The service was suspended in August because of staffing struggles and growing piles of yard waste.

Within two weeks, the county reported they were back on track with yard waste pickup, and have remained that way through March.

Since August, Waste Management said it hired 13 new staffers and lost a total of 16, putting them even further behind where they were before.

The company has a $10,000 hiring bonus, compared to Jacksonville’s $5,000 bonus. However, a representative said the farther commute to the center in Green Cove Springs makes it difficult to recruit.

Commissioners heard several options for moving forward.

The first option is keeping recycling drop-off sites until they are fully staffed, which could be several more months.

Commissioners are also considering keeping drop-off sites for the remainder of the county’s contract with Waste Management, which lasts until September 2024.

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A representative also proposed alternating curbside recycling with yard waste pickup every other week.

Finally, the county is looking at automating its curbside service. In Jacksonville, the trucks are designed so they only need a driver. Clay trucks require a driver and helper.

Commissioners agreed automation is the best way forward, but it’s the most costly and time-consuming.

The county is conducting a study to determine a master plan for waste pickup through 2042. It’s expected to be presented by mid-May.

Clay County has suspended the fee for curbside recycling collection until the service can be resumed.