New Los Angeles recycling program under fire for missed pickups

New Los Angeles recycling program under fire for missed pickups

More than 28,000 complaints have been filed since the program kicked off in July.

January 7, 2018

Los Angeles commercial trash customers have come out in droves to complain about missed collections and exorbitant bills during the first months of the program, the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to data from the Bureau of Sanitation, more than 28,000 complaints have been filed since the program, RecycLA, kicked off in July 2017.

Under the initiative, seven companies were given the exclusive rights to pick up trash and recycling at 70,000 businesses, apartment complexes and condominiums in the area.

RecycLA was promoted as a way to boost recycling rates and take the burden off of sanitation workers in the city. However, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council, which approved the program in 2012, are taking heat for RecycLA’s shaky start, according to the report.

“With all the time they took to design this, they were completely unprepared,” Larry Rubenstein, an apartment landlord whose buildings have been subject to the missed collections, says according to the report. “It was a disaster. If I did this with my buildings, I wouldn’t have any tenants.”

Starting Feb. 1, haulers will face financial penalties for missed collections. Under the rule, complaints received before 2 p.m. must be addressed by 6 p.m., and those received after 2 p.m. must be addressed by 10 a.m. the next day.

“The waste haulers need to do their jobs, and we will hold them accountable for providing the services our residents and businesses are paying for," Garcetti says in a statement.

Two of the seven haulers responsible for collection, Houston-based Waste Management and Phoenix-based Republic Services, have accounted for roughly two-thirds of the missed collection complaints, according to the report.

“Of course it’s troubling,” Doug Corcoran, director of public sector services for Waste Management, says of the complaints. Corcoran notes that neither Waste Management nor the city knew the volumes they would be dealing with at the outset of the program.  

Corcoran said that the company has reassigned drivers, trainers and supervisors from across the country to LA to help address the problem.

“I wish I could go to every one of our customers and say, ‘Man, I’m so incredibly sorry you had to deal with this.’ And I promise we’re going to get there. We are working day and night,” Corcoran concludes.