Early on Thursdays after the sun’s come out and children in uniforms board yellow buses for school, a big Kansas City trash truck slowly lumbers down streets in the Northeast area with a couple of guys in back of the vehicle hurriedly picking up plastic bags filled with garbage that neighbors had sat out at the curb the night before.
You could almost set your watch by the crew’s arrival except when holidays disrupt the schedule. Residents depend on the certainty of that city service and the pickup later in the day of recyclables from blue plastic bins that people also sit out with their trash.
So it makes sense that residents in some parts of the Kansas City area would be terribly upset over trash pickup being unpredictable or left at the curb for days. It’s why Kansas City officials on Tuesday issued a statement saying it was sorry for the poor refuse collection service in some neighborhoods.
“The City of Kansas City apologizes for the problems with trash and recycling collections and wants to assure our residents that we will resolve these problems as soon as possible,” the statement said.
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Trash pickup from the Missouri River to 63rd Street is done by municipal crews, and for the most part it has been good. But garbage and recyclable pickups in areas south of 63rd Street to the southern city limits are handled by Town & Country, now owned by WCA Waste Corp. Trash pickup in the Northland in Kansas City is done by Jim’s Disposal Service as a subcontractor of WCA.
Service in those areas has been far less than stellar. The same is true in some municipalities surrounding Kansas City, The Kansas City Star reports.
Some trash haulers cite a severe shortage of drivers for the problem in picking up trash and recyclables in a timely fashion. People either don’t have the skills to drive the big trash trucks, or they have failed the mandatory drug test, which they need to pass to get the job.
Kansas City over the years has put the squeeze on residents to reduce the trash they sit out from an unlimited number of bags and other items to just two bags unless people purchase special stickers to put out more bags. It has helped reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.
But the current trash pickup problems also point to the need for people to reduce the amount of trash they put out even more. Packaging that goes with purchases creates a lot of unnecessary debris that has to be thrown out.
People also waste a lot of food and other things they buy. The waste stream reduction is needed to relieve some of the pressure on trash pickups and to conserve valuable landfill space.
Meanwhile, WCA has wisely sought the help of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City to try to get more people who qualify to be trash truck drivers. The company will be part of the Sept. 20 hiring fair of the Urban League and the Urban Neighborhood Initiative. It will be at St. James United Methodist Church.
People pay their taxes and should get decent services from the city, and that includes trash pickup that should run like clockwork.