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New L.A. Waste Pick-Up Program Faces Criticism From Frustrated Customers

A Los Angeles garbage truck. (Photo by Chris via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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L.A. implemented a new waste pick-up program last December to consolidate trash pick-up and improve safety for workers. Now, the program faces complaints and criticism from businesses and locals who claim it has raised prices too much, is inconsistent with trash pick-up, and involves negligent customer service, according to the L.A. Times. The new system, called RecycLA, awarded exclusive contracts to a handful of companies and only affects commercial businesses and large apartment complexes. It also now requires blue recycling bins at these locations in order to help L.A. meet its goal of reduced landfill use by 2025.

One of the complaints—higher prices—was anticipated when the contracts were awarded because they eliminated competition between trash collection companies. "Prices and performance standards" would be set by the city, according to KPCC, but those rates have become an unaffordable burden for many customers. The L.A. Times points out one situation at a condominium in West L.A., where the trash pick-up bill will raise to $428 from $238 unless the building cuts back its service. “Where are we supposed to get that money from? We have a budget down to the penny for our expenses for this year," said Janet Garstang, the president of the homeowner association in that area.

The companies have also often missed trash pick-up days, stemming from the transition away from companies that did not receive contracts with the city. The transition began in April and will continue until February of next year, and currently affects 80,000 commercial and residential buildings. Some of the problems have arisen from smaller collection companies shutting their doors without notice, according to KPCC, because they didn't receive contracts. Councilman Mitch Englander described the situation to KPCC, saying, "A lot of these small haulers are just closing their doors, without any notice and leaving their accounts abandoned, nobody to pick up their trash." Other problems stem from the newly-contracted companies, which need more equipment and workers to meet the new demands.

City Councilmembers have been contacted by frustrated constituents. Councilman Paul Koretz has responded by threatening to pull the contracts if the new waste companies don't resolve all customer issues within three months.

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