A shortage of garbage truck drivers across the country and a spike in local driver resignations is to blame, says Republic Services General Manager Sharon Mann, for recent hiccups in collections around the city-parish.
The garbage company employs nearly 170 drivers to service 780,000 homes a week, Mann told the Metro Council, and earlier this spring, a supervisor and eight drivers quit in one week, causing the company to bring in a “SOS team” of out-of-state drivers to fill the gap.
“We are currently aggressively hiring and training, and overhiring, so we don’t have this problem again,” Mann said, emphasizing that overhiring would be the key to regulating pickup.
As for investigating the causes behind missed pickups, a concern of Councilman LaMonte Cole, Mann says Republic has a strict disciplinary policy and has fired more than 10 workers since January. Additionally, the company submits pictures to the Department of Environmental Service to show they’ve responded to missed pickups.
Mann also notes the company has seen an increase in the parish’s contamination rate, the rate of garbage that’s mixed with recyclables. While Baton Rouge historically saw a rate of 20% to 25%, it has increased in recent months to 30%. Mann says they’re working with the Department of Environmental Services to re-educate residents on what to recycle.