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Trash is piling up in Atlanta metro area as waste management services struggle with worker shortage

Some residents say their trash is an eyesore, and they're not buying into the "Covid" excuse.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Many metro Atlanta counties are facing major issues with trash, recycling and yard debris collections as waste management services are struggling with worker shortages.

Austen Onyett lives in Dacula and said they are seeing the issue firsthand.

"We’ve either had delayed pickups or missed pick-ups," Onyett said.

In Tucker, one resident said the issue is growing, and so is their frustration.

"It's extremely frustrating especially with the length of time it’s been going on," Alex Charles said.

Both homeowners said they've gone without full trash collection for weeks at a time.

"I really care about my curb appeal so you know, to have a trash can or to have yard trash sitting out there for weeks on end is a hassle," Charles said. "Sometimes it's a full month or a month and a half before somebody comes back out." 

Charles said it's a major hassle as he tries to guess when he could get rid of his trash.

"I have to pull everything back to the side of the house to hide it and then pull it back the following week only for them not to pick it up and then do it all over again," he said.

To help cope with the trash pick-up delays, he's gone as far as to haul his debris to his parents' home, Charles said.

Onyett said his patience is running thin as well.

"This is not something that just cropped up, this has gone on for over a year," Onyett said. 

He showed 11Alive automated responses from when he's submitted multiple service requests to waste management, trying to resolve the issue. He said he's yet to see a solution.

11Alive has reached out to DeKalb and Gwinnett counties for a response.

Eric Holston, assistant director of residential sanitation in DeKalb responded saying the lack of debris pick-up is just another symptom of the pandemic.

"We have crews out there today diligently working today and throughout the weekend to get back on track with our recycling collection and our yard debris collection," Holsten said.

Gwinnett County also blamed staffing shortages, adding that COVID is impacting about a fifth of their workforce. The county has had to temporarily suspend yard trimming and bulky item pick-ups.

The City of Atlanta reported half of the labor force in solid waste services has been impacted due to the omicron variant as well.

To help ease the pile-up, Atlanta residents have alternate drop-off locations for yard debris at 2175 James Jackson Pkwy and 1540 Northside Dr. NW.


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