Problems with city of Atlanta trash pickup is linked to pandemic staffing shortages

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta says the pandemic is causing staffing shortages in its public works department.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke with neighbors in southeast Atlanta who say they sympathize but are also frustrated with the issue.

The city has modified some of its yard-waste pickups because of staffing shortages. They are still trying to pick up normal household garbage once a week.

Erin Strickland took Elliot on a virtual tour of her southeast Atlanta neighborhood. She showed him where the city hasn’t picked up her garbage or that of her neighbors.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” says Strickland.

Like other cities, counties and even businesses across Georgia, Atlanta is facing staffing shortages. Those shortages are causing delays with trash and yard-waste pickup even though city council member Michael Julian Bond says they’re offering big signing bonuses.

“The reason why there are delays today is because we were wrecked by COVID-19,” said Bond. “We’re now offering a $500 signing bonus to replace those workers,” said Bond.

In a statement, a city employee said, “The Department of Public Works is taking aggressive, immediate action to address challenges with collecting yard trimmings by hiring temporary staff, extending work hours, developing recruiting and retention incentives. DPW has prioritized other solid waste services including garbage and recycling pickups during the staffing shortage.”


Strickland understands the shortages and delays but is also frustrated that her garbage is still out on her curb.

“Trash was supposed to be back on its weekly schedule, but they haven’t come now for the second week in a row,” said Strickland.

The city says while it’s had to make changes to when it picks up yard trimmings, it is trying to keep to that once-a-week garbage pickup schedule.


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