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COVID isn't the only reason for delayed trash pickup at some Valley homes

Overflowing trash.jpg
Posted at 9:11 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-15 07:24:48-05

QUEEN CREEK, AZ — The cause for delays in trash and recycle pickups across the Valley can partially be attributed to pandemic-related shortages, but that’s not the only reason why your trash may be sitting idle at the curb for days.

When a trash truck drove by a rural Queen Creek community, homeowners waved at the driver to thank them.

“They were supposed to come Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,” said Tanya.

As one of the Waste Management customers in her neighborhood, she pays for trash pickup twice a week because of a full house and livestock around her property.

Recently, she said her trash has been piling up.

She and other neighbors tell us they went over a week with bins bursting over the lid.

Overflowing trash is one thing - having wildlife rummage through it, is a whole other level of frustration.

“They’ll dig in our trash cans, they’ll make messes, they rile up all of our dogs, then they become a danger to our chickens, our livestock, horses you name it,” said Tanya.

In a statement to ABC15, Waste Management told us:

“Like many other industries, the environmental services sector is being impacted by the recent increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. Throughout the pandemic, we have and will continue to remain focused on the health and safety of our team members. We encourage those who are sick to stay home from work and follow CDC and applicable state and local isolation and quarantine guidance. We will continue to manage absences to ensure we provide essential waste and recycling service to our customers. In limited circumstances, we’ve had isolated service disruptions, but we are working to further limit any future service disruptions.”

The City of Peoria tells us they were down a dozen drivers on Friday, in part due to COVID, delaying recycling pickup for about 3,000 homes.

Some drivers had planned vacations, scheduled medical procedures, or expected days off but COVID “pushed it over the edge,” said Peoria Public Works Director Jay Davies.

Janet Bowman got so tired of full bins at her curb she flagged down a driver to come to her street.

”If you only make a couple of dollars more than someone working at In-and-Out burger,” said Bowman questioning how drivers are able to make a living wage.

According to Zip Recruiter, the average garbage truck driver salary for Arizona is just over $36,000 a year.

Kristin Tytler with the Arizona Chapter for The American Public Works Association tells us some Commercial Driver License Drivers for garbage trucks are leaving city and county utility jobs to drive for private companies – further aggravating the CDL shortage, which in turn, aggravates folks like Bowman.

“How about we stop funding golf tournaments and we start funding people so they can survive,” said Bowman.