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 Jacksonville, FL (September 27, 2021) – At a press conference Monday morning, Mayor Lenny Curry outlined the city’s way forward to tackle the backlog of garbage, recycling, and yard waste that has plagued our city for months.  Starting October 4th, Mayor Curry announced, the suspension of recycling collection to allow all waste haulers in Jacksonville to focus their attention on collecting garbage and yard waste only.  Additionally, he announced that the city would be opening 14 collection drop-off sites throughout the city to assist in the collection of recycling for residents who want to continue to recycle and can bring their materials to these locations at no cost. In stating that he would also be filing emergency legislation, 2021-729, at the September 28th City Council meeting, the mayor’s proposal would aim to help expedite yard waste collections on the Southside by having funds approved for the use of a third-party yard waste recycler off Philips Highway.

Of the 14 recycling drop-off sites, two will be located in or near District 11.  Fort Family Regional Park on Baymeadows Road East and Palmetto Leaves Regional Park off of Old St. Augustine Road. Both locations will offer recycling drop offs convenient to the north and southern parts of the district.  For other nearby locations, Southside Estates Elementary Park, Castaway Island Preserve and Earl Johnson Memorial Park will be the closest out-of-district sites.  For a full list of all locations, please see the graphics at the end of this article.

One component that remains constant to the wide-spread waste management issues is manpower to run these routes and the need to hire more CDL drivers.  CM Becton reached out to Dave Searcy, Regional Manager for WastePro, to get his response to questions as Council Member Becton wanted to understand more thoroughly.  In that conversation, Mr. Searcy stated that WastePro, in order to operate at full operation, needs 51 CDL drivers to show up to work every day in order to have 20 drivers allocated to take care of garbage, 10 to perform recycling, and another 10 to do yard waste.  WastePro also requires 10 additional drivers to perform other duties including servicing parts of the Beaches, special services for Deerwood and other miscellaneous duties that get performed.  Currently, Mr. Searcy stated, he only has 41 drivers on staff, and out of those, only 32 showed up the morning Mr. Searcy and CM Becton spoke.

 “WastePro like other Waste Haulers is in dire need of hiring more qualified CDL drivers,” Mr. Searcy stated.  “A driver can make anywhere from $50-$55k a year plus great benefits starting out and upwards to $55-$60k within five-years,“ Searcy added.  “This pay amount includes a 40-hour work week, plus overtime and a driver can earn a 10k bonus for being a safe driver over a five-year period.” Searcy concluded.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Ordinance 2021-729 was filed by the mayor’s office aimed at utilizing a yard waste transfer and recycling company Gaston Tree Debris Recycling, L.L.C .  This facility would assist in reducing runtimes to the city’s westside landfill and would help to increase the pace of collection for communities and neighborhoods of the Southside. The recycler located off Phillips Highway in District 11, would allow yard waste to be taken to this location, processed and used as mulch.  More importantly, it would save hours of drive time for trucks in reducing the three to four hours a day round trip currently necessary to haul their loads to the city’s landfill at Trail Ridge near Baldwin.  By having this facility on the southside, they can remain in the district, dropping off their yard waste faster, and return to collect more, as quickly as possible.

CM Becton inquired about how the city would be paying for this service, and the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, Brian Hughes, stated that the city would be on the hook for the bill as the waste haulers would not be reimbursing the city for this extra expense, with the cost being approximately $100k a month.  When CM Becton asked about the fines levied against the haulers and if they could be used to offset those costs, Mr. Hughes stated that those fines are subtracted from the monthly payment made to the waste haulers. WastePro, for example, would be paid a reduced amount based on the fines levied to them in the previous month.  Overall, Mr. Hughes stated, the city would be saving money by going this route.  The council placed the Emergency legislation up for a vote just before midnight and after a lengthy discussion passed the Ordinance unanimously.

CoJ Recycling Drop-off Locations:

CoJ Recycling DropOff Sites

For more information please visit the following links:

By Joe Johnson, District 11 Executive Council Assistant and CM Danny Becton.