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Stothert: Waste collections backing up, plans in place to catch up

Posted at 10:03 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 13:53:36-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Mayor Jean Stothert wasn’t pointing fingers, instead pointing her thumb at herself and taking responsibility for the early trash mishaps.

“We promise to have very good customer service and we really feel like during the first several weeks, we have let people down,” said Stothert.

Those problems include missing thousands of houses last week and more earlier in the week, with the city now playing catch up throughout town.

The mayor said these are growing pains with a new contractor, FCC Environmental.

FCC’s Director of Collection Services Dan Brazil said part of it is simply employees switching companies from Waste Management to FCC.

“It’s such a big transition, you think about all the drivers, especially that transferred from Waste Management, new equipment, that they are learning new and different routes now and some of that just takes time,” said Brazil.

Another issue has been the new trash bins and ditching the old ones, as many residents tossed their old bins into the new ones, and in turn filled up the trucks quickly, stalling the crews.

“We feel like once people get rid of those carts and recycling bins then this is going to go a lot smoother too,” said Stothert.

Karla Alvarez rents a part of a duplex in south Omaha and is one of a few Omaha residents who still haven’t received the new bins and are still stuck with the old ones. Her trash wasn’t picked up for a week.

“Finally today, my son was able to catch one of the guys that was coming through the neighborhood and pretty much begged him to pick up our trash, and they did,” said Alvarez.

She feels confident new bins are coming, but was frustrated by the city’s lack of customer service as she was stuck on hold for some time.

“I wasn’t looking to be a stickler, I was just looking to say ‘Hey, maybe I missed a step,' and just making sure that I’m doing what I was supposed to do,” said Alvarez.

Weekly numbers are already showing improvement and the city is adding new drivers and trucks and will be working Saturdays if needed to catch up.

To help alleviate this particular issue, the city is asking people to take their old trash cans and bins to Under the Sink located at 4001 South 120th Street.

Another factor is special collections which are offered to people ages 70 and older and those with disabilities who can’t get their bins to the curbs. For these customers, FCC employees can retrieve their bins from alternate locations. The city was handling just over 2,000 of these special collections and underestimated how many more would be added on following recent press events on the transition to FCC Stothert said. Now, FCC will be handling more than double that with about 7,000 special collections.

To help get FCC’s collections get back on track, the city asks customers to:

  • Be sure bins are close to the curb with the street-indicator arrows pointing towards the street
  • All items must be placed in bins and not in bags next to the bins. For yard waste bags or yard waste, residents need to affix pre-paid yard waste service stickers which can be purchased at a number of retailers in the city. Local retailers that offer the stickers can be found by clicking the following link: https://wasteline.org/yardwaste-sticker-locations/
  • Be sure carts are at the curb before 6 a.m. Stothert recommended placing them out the night before your collection days.
  • Check your routes and frequency of recycling pickup. You can do so at the following website: https://wasteline.org/waste-collection-information/collection-day-finder/
  • Only report missed collections to one source which are the mayor’s hotline at 402-444-5555 or the city’s Solid Waste Helpline at 402-444-5238.

Despite the issues so far, Stothert said the city and FCC will continue to address the issues up to this point to get collections running smoothly.

3 News Now Reporter Jon Kipper will have more on this story, tonight on 3 News Now Live at 6.

Watch their update below or on our Facebook page.

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