Trash-truck drivers are hard to hire right now

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — Labor shortages across the country are impacting various industries, including waste management. The FOX31 Problem Solvers are receiving complaints about delays in trash pickup.

Residents in Denver’s North Park Hill neighborhood can finally breathe some relief after a trash mess was removed near East 35th Avenue and Leyden Street.

“It’s a certain type of smell when there’s, like, a bunch of trash in the heat … and it was that smell,” said Saxon, who lives nearby.

Park Hill neighbors told FOX31 the extra trash is an issue that started — and got worse — during the pandemic, when Denver pushed large item pickup dates from every four weeks to every eight weeks. Fewer pickups allowed the city to cut budgets during pandemic economic woes.

Denver is not alone. The Problem Solvers have heard of issues across the metro area and beyond.

“The worker shortage in solid waste collection appears to be spreading nationally, as more communities report delayed collections,” said David Biderman, who leads the Solid Waste Association of North America. “We encourage local governments and haulers to work together to address the situation.”

Denver acknowledges commercial drivers are in high demand. Earlier this year, Mile High City bureaucrats were authorized to start hiring more drivers, but the city tells the Problem Solvers it has been challenging. Colorado’s largest city is currently looking for 15 vehicle operators.

Denver District 5 Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer tweeted on Wednesday that her office “has received a number of complaints regarding delayed or skipped trash service.”

While it may take longer to have larger items picked up, Denver said its missed pickup call rate last month amounted to less than 1/2 of a percent of total pickups.

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