HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – We’re used to seeing piles of trash this time of year as people get knee-deep in spring cleaning, but a Huntsville public works official says there’s more trash recently after the governor’s stay-at-home order.
“The challenge right now is volume due to the stay-at-home order issued by Governor Ivey. A lot of our residents are at home, they’re cleaning out basements, garages, and closets,” said Chris McNeese, Director of Public Works.
According to the Huntsville Sanitation Department, on an average week in March or April, they’ll collect between 800,000 and 1,000,000 pounds of yard trash and debris. Last week, they picked up well over 2,000,000 pounds.
“We’re picking up twice the volume. There’s a lot of material out there to be collected, but we just want the residents to know that we’re operating full staff at sanitation and we’re going to get to it, but it’s going to take us just a little bit of extra time due to the sheer volume of what we’re collecting,” McNeese said.
McNeese said the trucks are running behind schedule on bulk pickup, but household garbage pickup is still running on time.
“During this time when we do have excessive garbage to be collected, we want to maintain social distance. We don’t want to get out and start handling a lot of debris, a lot of household garbage,” he said.
If you do have overflow garbage, the sanitation department requests that you be present when they come to pick it up. Once they have emptied it, you can put your second trash bag in, and they can immediately empty it again. This eliminated city employees from having to handle people’s household garbage and any extra overflow, but still allows all of the necessary trash to be taken.
“Whenever the trucks fill up, they have to go to the landfill. They’ll dump their load, then they have to go back out to where they ended on their routes, pick back up and start collecting from that point on,” said McNeese.
As for the safety of the drivers, their start times are now staggered. They continue to wear leather gloves and masks are optional.
The City of Decatur is also experiencing some similar problems. City officials say there is significantly more trash than usual. They are encouraging people to use both carts for their garbage, and to limit putting bulky items and tree limbs on the curb – giving them more time to catch up.