Jan 27, 2022 - News

Citing COVID, Austin suspends bulk trash collection

A City of Austin truck collects large brush.

Austin's large brush collection service has been suspended indefinitely as a consequence of COVID-related staffing shortfalls. Photo courtesy Austin Resource Recovery

First COVID came for the teachers, now it's after your ratty carpet.

Driving the news: Large brush and bulk collection services for residential Austin trash customers have been suspended indefinitely due to COVID-related staffing shortages, city officials announced Wednesday.

Plus: Streets might be a little dustier as another ripple effect of COVID.

  • Residential street sweeping has been curtailed as Austin Resource Recovery scrambles to cover driver vacancies.

Between the lines: A labor deficit is leading to trouble filling openings on the Austin Resource Recovery team — especially for the drivers of garbage trucks.

  • Currently, ARR has 46 driver vacancies — out of a normally full force of 321 drivers.
  • Salaries start at $17 per hour for new Austin Resource Recovery drivers.

What they're saying: "More people are at home now ordering more things to our doorstep, so there's much higher demand for delivery services in general," ARR director Ken Snipes tells Axios. "That means options for our drivers to move around to delivery companies."

  • ARR has been doling out $3,000 signing and retention bonuses to attract and keep drivers.

Zoom out: School districts, airlines and restaurants have been frazzled for weeks by staff shortfalls as the highly transmissible Omicron variant forced sick employees to stay home.

  • Hutto ISD temporarily canceled student pick-ups and drop-offs earlier this month.

Yes, but: At least the Austin situation is not as dire as in Jacksonville, Florida, where firefighters were at one point being trained in garbage collection.

The bottom line: That rusted-out lawnmower you've been meaning to put curbside will have to rust a little bit longer.

  • Don't worry: If you've been tardy in setting out your Christmas tree, the city is still collecting them as part of its compost pickup.
  • Also, dead animal collection is still up and running.

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