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Columbia Solid Waste short 16 employees, curbside pickup for recycling continues to be suspended


The City of Columbia is still unsure when the City's solid waste collection service will have the ability to restart recycling services after it was suspended in May.

The Department is still short 16 people and said it won't restart recycling pickup until they are able to ensure the service is reliable.

Solid Waste spokesman Matthew Nestor said the department have been battling staffing shortages since 2015, and added that this isn't the first time they have had to suspend services.

"We had to suspend it for a while and then we started it back up with the help of a temp service," Nestor said. "But in recent days we've lost enough people and the temp service was not able to cover all the positions we had." 

Nestor said the department has, "done the regular job boards, we've done online job boards, we've done job fairs, you know reaching out to different communities and different sectors." 

The topic was also brought up during Monday night's City Council meeting, where Director of Utilities David Sorrell said they have gotten feedback from workers about ways to fix the problem.

"They said automate recycling, you know, they said the hiring process takes too long, they said we as a staff could have a better attitude I mean there's a whole bunch of ideas that they had but none of them provide us a solution that can help us start tomorrow," Sorrell said.

Sorrell added that he will give council members a list of potential solutions. Sorrell said last month that six refuse collectors were needed to begin pickup.

Nestor said that despite having to drop off recycling themselves, customers are still paying the same price for trash services.

"There's no direct line to curbside recycling collection to what they pay in a monthly bill. A lot of that goes to landfill fees and that kind of stuff, we cover a lot of things," Nestor said. "We have the yard waste drop-off centers, we have the household hazardous waste drop-offs every other weekend during the spring and summer, so the solid waste utility rate covers a lot of things."

Columbia resident Bill Clark said that he doesn't think of dropping off his recycling as an inconvenience.

"It's all co-mingled so you can throw it together," said Clark. "I live a mile and a half from here so it's not terrible, I just make it my weekly chores. I'm concerned that more people are lazy about recycling."

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.


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