It was the perfect storm—an actual storm that dropped several inches of snow on the region in the early hours of Saturday, December 29, coinciding with a holiday trash pickup schedule that pushed collection back a day for everyone, during a week when the detritus of holiday gift-giving results in a larger than average curbside volume of trash and recycling.
Waste Management, Mt. Lebanon’s trash contractor, had been running on a planned one-day delay after Christmas, which fell on a Tuesday. Mt. Lebanon’s roads typically are cleared quickly, but that is not the case everywhere; in the area of the company’s Washington County landfill, where the refuse is deposited, the Saturday snowstorm caused hazardous road conditions. As a result, their operations manager sent crews home, without notifying any of the 10 municipalities affected by the shutdown, says Mt. Lebanon Public Works Director Tom Kelley.
“We did not find out about the service interruption until Monday,” says Kelley, “and we couldn’t reach (Waste Management) by telephone or email.”
Residents who were able to reach Waste Management’s national 800 number received mixed messages, Kelley says, which in turn prompted calls to the municipality.
Waste Management, already on a one-day delay for two weeks in a row because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, was facing a situation where they didn’t have the equipment and people to get back on schedule in a timely manner.
Mt. Lebanon Manager Steve Feller promptly sent a letter to Waste Management expressing concern over the way the situation had been handled. Subsequently, Kelley met with Waste Management officials on January 3 and the two sides were able to come to a resolution, which includes a better communication process so that residents can be properly notified in the event of a trash/recycling emergency.
Waste Management is back on regular holiday schedule for residential trash pickups-which means they are one day behind the regular weekly pickup schedule. They have had twice the usual number of trucks working this week, will work this Saturday, and on Monday they will be back on their regular weekly schedule. Currently they are running behind on recycling but should be up to date on Monday.
Because all trucks are devoted to catching up the backlog of trash in the South Hills, curbside Christmas tree pickup is delayed one week. The new dates are Saturdays, January 12 and January 19. Residents also may drop trees off at the public works yard on Lindendale Drive anytime before January 19.