Iâ€™m sure many of you have watched (or rewatched several times, as I have) the 2011 film “Contagion” since the onset of the pandemic. And if youâ€™re like me, youâ€™ve listed all of the doomsday things that happened in the thriller and compared it against what weâ€™ve been dealing with. Widespread quarantine? Check. Food shortages? Check. Misinformation spread by a conspiracy theorist blogger about a cure? Checkmate.
Well, itâ€™s time to think about checking â€œgarbage piling up on the streetsâ€ off the “Contagion” bingo card.
I started noticing the issue about a month ago, after June storms left thousands with flooded basements and piles of crap left on the curbs. My recycling bin, and the bins of all of my neighbors on a block in Southwest Detroit, werenâ€™t being picked up by the service provider, GFL Environmental, on scheduled Mondays.
Iâ€™ve since called GFL three times to find out whatâ€™s the deal. A phone conversation with a GFL representative on Tuesday of this week revealed that the city-contracted company has been experiencing a labor shortage. The rep said they would send out a truck as soon as possible.
But this isnâ€™t just an issue on my block. Residents in Green Oak Township, Livonia, South Lyon and Novi have also experienced long delays in getting their trash removed by GFL. A GFL Environmental USA’s director of government affairs told Hometown Life in an email that in addition to an industry-wide labor shortage, the entire trucking industry has been disrupted because of a global crisis in the supply chain that makes truck parts.
Meanwhile, here in the Motor City, Detroit press secretary Georgette Johnson told me in an email that GFL — as well as the cityâ€™s other provider Advanced Disposal — were caught up and on schedule as of Wednesday morning.
Johnson blamed the delays on the high volume of bulk debris requiring pick-up post-flood, saying the services were â€œslightly behind scheduleâ€ on Tuesday. She advised that workers have been scooping up storm debris daily and will continue to do so until Sept. 3 when operations return to normal and enforcement resumes.
â€œSince the June 25-26 flood, our contractors have picked up more than 60 million pounds of flood debris, in addition to weekly container collection,â€ Johnson wrote in the email. â€œWe’re asking residents to be patient and know that our schedule is caught up, but whenever there is a delay, we will catch it up the next day.”
She also says that anyone with questions or requests can call 313-876-0004 or use the Improve Detroit App to report any issues.
The recycling on my block still had not been picked up as of Wednesday evening. But enough about me — please let us know if youâ€™ve experienced similar slow trash or recycling pickup. Weâ€™ll stay on top of the issue and see if things get â€œback to normalâ€ trash-wise by Sept. 3.