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LA council members tear into city’s waste haulers over RecycLA debacle

Council members for the city of Los Angeles ripped into the waste hauling companies contracted to service the city’s collection needs for failure to do their job during a Feb. 6. meeting, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. This past July, seven waste service companies were awarded the exclusive contracts to pick up trash and recycling at 70,000 businesses, apartment complexes and condominiums throughout the city’s 11 geographical regions under the new RecycLA program.

Since then, more than 28,000 complaints have been filed with the Bureau of Sanitation. When the number of complaints peaked at 6,000 in December 2017, the city sent its own sanitation workers out to collect trash from 150 accounts. In some instances, collections had been neglected for weeks at a time.

The companies in charge of collection are Waste Management, Houston; Athens Services, City of Industry, California; Republic Services, Phoenix; Universal Waste Systems Inc., Sante Fe Springs, California; CalMet Services Inc., Paramount, California; NASA Services, Montebello, California; and Ware Disposal Inc., Santa Ana, California.

Representatives from the waste hauling companies say the scale of the initiative is bigger than they anticipated and in some cases, they were not given accurate details surrounding the number of accounts for which they were responsible. However, council members argued that the time for excuses was over, the report says.

“I don’t want to hear from anybody how hard this is,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian told the waste services representatives at the meeting. “What I want to hear from you is, when are you going to meet your customers’ requirements?”

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell echoed Krekorian’s sentiments.

“The frustration that many of us feel is how do we get through these—‘growing pains’ is an underwhelming term to use, especially after all of the horrible things we’ve heard about—how do we get through this terribly difficult transition time?” O’Farrell asked during the meeting.

The failure of the seven hauling companies to adequately address the problems with the program have led to continual backlash from area citizens. Besides missed collections, rising rates have been a point of contention.

According to the report, Paul Ling, an apartment owner in the city, told the council that his collection rates had more than doubled since the change to the city’s waste program was implemented last summer.

While the waste management companies’ representatives laid out reasons for the program’s bumpy start, councilwoman Nury Martinez told the group that they were responsible for coming up with solutions to fix RecycLA’s problems.

“You will be held accountable,” Martinez said. “You are going to make a lot of money out of this, or you would not have participated in this contract.”

At least one lawsuit has been filed and a proposal has been circulated to repeal core elements of the RecycLA program.