A perfect storm slows down trash and recycling pickup in Hampton Roads

Virginia Beach

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The pandemic has created a record amount of waste as the kids are learning from home and the parents are earning from home.

“It’s not just citywide, it’s locality-wide. So, it is also happening in Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Suffolk as well as Virginia Beach. On those delays, it’s just a staffing issue,” said Virginia Beach Waste Management spokesperson Kristi Rine.

According to the American Trucking Association, 110,000 additional drivers are needed every year for the next 10 years. This leaves municipalities competing with major companies that have better pay and better conditions.

The truck driver shortage affects all aspects of commerce. The National Truck Tank Carriers organization predicts the nation could face a gasoline shortage, not because of supply, but because a fourth of the nation’s truck tanks are parked because of a driver shortage.

Virginia Beach is short only three waste drivers, thanks to a new training program, but on the recycling side, there is a significant shortage.

“They need at least 15 to 18 drivers to finish those routes on a good day they probably have between 10 and 14 drivers,” said Rine.

One TFC driver is lucky to be alive. Earlier this year her recycling truck caught fire and was destroyed after it crushed a propane tank that was improperly tossed in recycling.

The region faces a “pickup perfect storm”: demand will increase as the summer season approaches.

Public Works officials have some advice if your can is left unemptied on trash or recycling day.

“Leave your can curbside, because if we are operating on a delay whether that’s trash or recycling, because odds are very, very good the truck will swing back by the next day. If it’s not collected by noon the day after your normal collection day, give us a call,” said Rine.

If you have any questions concerns you may call 757-385-4650, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit www.vbgov.com/wastemgt.

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