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Official: New trash plan is improving

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Many of the initial problems with Gwinnett's new trash program have been corrected, and officials say the new plan is working.

In fact, the institution of the program has meant recycling county-side in July matched the total of the previous three months, division director Casey Snyder said.

In July, the first month of the service, haulers collected 15,520.02 tons of solid waste in unincorporated Gwinnett County, compared to a total of 34,726.73 tons in April, May and June. Snyder reported that recycling in June was 2,028.80 tons, compared to 2,342.36 tons in the three months prior.

"The plan is working on a preliminary basis," Snyder said during a briefing to commissioners Tuesday. "We do have some success here, and we want to build off of that."

While a solid waste call center was flooded with complaints just after the July 1 implementation of the controversial plan, officials said the numbers have dropped off. Haulers have made strides in correcting routes, cart deliveries and missed deliveries, Snyder said, adding that haulers now face fines if they do not make amends for a complaint within 24 hours.

In addition to the increased recycling, Snyder said customers have called for pick-up of yard waste and bulky items, such as couches and mattresses -- things that often ended up illegally dumped.

"That's a good thing," he said of getting the items properly disposed of instead of dumped by streams or in vacant lots.

Staffers are now considering some tweaks to the county's solid waste ordinance, including the possibility of reductions in fees for vacant property and for the elderly, he said. Every homeowner in Gwinnett pays a fee, along with property taxes, regardless of whether the homes are occupied. Snyder noted Tuesday that haulers are reporting the homes as unoccupied and are not getting paid by the county.

Commissioner Bert Nasuti said he has seen a reduction in the complaints he hears from constituents.

"I think most people have gotten good service. People have been satisfied," he said. "It's amazing how many people are committed to recycling."