INVESTIGATES: Yard waste piles up in Clay County during continued labor shortage

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. — Yard waste is piling up in Clay County as the waste industry deals with a significant labor shortage.

Some streets are up to three weeks behind pickup schedule.

Waste Management, which runs Advanced Disposal in Clay County, said it is experiencing the same labor shortage as the hospitality industry.

Its priority is garbage and recycle pickup, which means yard waste is getting left behind in several neighborhoods.

Denise Gussler lives in Brennan Mill Plantation in Middleburg. She said her grass clippings have been curbside for weeks.

“When it is sunny out, they’re cooking,” she told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant.

She said it attracts mosquitoes and a stench in the air. “I realize that you can’t hire people — but you’ve got to come up with something.”

Clay County leased three trucks from Green Cove Springs, which is operated by county staff on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Waste Management also hired a company out of Gainesville that has five trucks operating six days a week in the county.

Waste Management also increased its wages and has a $10,000 signing bonus paid over two years to encourage applicants.

After the state of Florida stopped distributing federal unemployment benefits, more people started applying.

However, Waste Management said training takes 90 days.

The company is at 60% of its typical staffing.

Neighbors are being told to keep their yard waste curbside, and that it will be picked up eventually.

“My husband is going to mow the grass Saturday — are there going to be two more piles out there? Who knows,” Gussler asked.

Waste Management is meeting with Clay County Commissioners on July 27 to discuss options moving forward.