Trash problems persist across Memphis as city contractor works to catch up on pandemic trash collection

Trash pickup delayed in parts of Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Trash troubles continue in parts of Memphis where residents tell WMC Action News 5 their garbage still is not getting picked up on time.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Monday the contractor tasked with fulfilling the job could be canned if service doesn't improve.

“This is so unacceptable on every level as a taxpayer, as a homeowner, I’ve never seen the likes of it,” said Constance Heffner. ”We are still a week behind, and truthfully, we don’t know when they are going to come.”

Heffner said another missed trash pickup in her Cordova neighborhood off Germantown Parkway has it looking and smelling a mess again. She said she is frustrated with weeks and months of delays and inconsistencies in pickup from city contractor Waste Pro.

"That stinky garbage, it's not good," said Meera Maliakkan, who lives nearby. "It sits here for a week. That's not good."

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Monday that the City of Memphis is working with Waste Pro to correct their service. City officials have previously said they’ve withheld payments to Waste Pro and fined them.

Waste Pro was brought in after the previous contractor, Inland Waste, was fired over trash pickup issues in 2018.

“The level of service that Waste Pro has provided some residents in part of East Memphis, Cordova, and Hickory Hill is completely unacceptable,” said Strickland. “We are putting as much legal pressure on them as we can.”

Cordova residents frustrated yet again with delays in trash pickup

Nearly three weeks ago, Waste Pro apologized to customers in a statement to WMC Action News 5 and said the COVID-19 pandemic was to blame for the delays, with a 35-percent increase in collections, the result of more people being at home.

Officials with Waste Pro said in a statement Monday they are still trying to get caught up.

“In Memphis, we continue to deal with a 30-percent increase in residential waste due to the pandemic. The stay at home directives have resulted in not just increases in food waste but bulk waste from residents doing “spring cleaning” for months,” wrote Ron Pecora, senior vice president of Waste Pro USA, “As previously stated, we are working closely with the city of Memphis Solid Waste Department and have added additional trucks and crews.”

Strickland told WMC Action News 5 that the city is giving Waste Pro a final chance, and if their service does not improve, they could be out the door.

"If we don't see any true long-term solutions, then we may have to go in another direction," he said.

Constance Heffner said she just wants reliable trash pickup, and she doesn't care who does it.

“We shouldn’t have to be asking. We shouldn’t have to babysit. They know what the known issues are,” she said.

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