Customers are upset that waste and recycling hauler Republic Services has repeatedly canceled or delayed pickup since November and recently told them recycling pickup would be delayed indefinitely.

In a statement to flag pole, Will Blanchetti, general manager of Atlanta North, blamed the situation on the pandemic.

“As the number of COVID-19 cases has increased statewide, Republic Services has also seen a recent increase in positive cases among our staff in Athens,” Blanchetti said.

“Labour shortages in many industries have had less of an impact for us locally. In fact, our numbers are at an all-time high. This week we have temporarily suspended recycling, bulk and yard waste collections due to driver constraints with COVID-19. This allows us to prioritize garbage collection for all of our customers. Unfortunately, this latest wave of COVID has hit during the holiday season when we traditionally see an increase in household waste, which has increased delays.

“We will notify the community when staff allow us to resume regular recycling, bulk and yard waste collection.”

Commissioners Mike Hamby and Jesse Houle said at the January 4 commission meeting that the Republic should be held accountable. “People pay them to pick up recycling,” Hamby said. “So whatever we need to do as a county to get recycling picked up for these people, it needs to happen.”

Blanchetti did not provide a timeline for restoring service. Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Director Suki Janssen said her department contacted Republic because the suspension violated an ACC order, but did not hear back. While the government could revoke Republic’s franchise to operate in the ACC for failing to provide recycling collection as required by law, in the short term solid waste can’t do much, Janssen said. .

“Quite frankly, over the past three years we’ve seen Republic perform poorly in many areas of ACC,” she said. “ACCGov has very little control over the performance of private carriers – we have allowed customers to control the type of service they get by choice.”

While residents of the “urban services district”—essentially within pre-unification city limits—have their trash and recycling picked up by the ACC (and pay extra), residents of the former unincorporated county have the choice of a private carrier. Janssen urged Republic customers to choose another provider, such as AAA Sanitation, Curbside Services, Jimmy Johnson or Waste Pro.

Several drop-off sites for recyclable materials are also available. They are located at the ACC Landfill and outside the ACC Jail, both on Lexington Road, Danielsville Road and Jefferson Road Fire Stations, Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials on College Avenue, the Fire Department Maintenance Depot in Winterville, Georgia Square Mall near the old movie theater, and ACC Fleet Management on Newton Bridge Road.

The commission periodically considered expanding ACC’s waste and recycling service to the entire county, but abandoned the idea due to the cost of purchasing more trucks and the pushback from private haulers, of their customers and residents who like to save money by transporting their own waste. dump.