Gwinnett County Commissioner Kirkland Carden is pushing to create new oversight for trash collection companies that operate in unincorporated parts of the county in light of numerous complaints he said commissioners have been receiving about solid waste haulers.
Under a proposal that Carden intends to pitch to his colleagues on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, a new Waste Management Oversight Committee would be created within county government. Members would be appointed to oversee solid waste haulers and handle complaints residents file against the providers over service.
“Since taking office on the Board Commissioner at the start of this year, I am alarmed by the number of complaints and issues raised by Gwinnett County residents regarding the service, quality and performance of Gwinnett County’s trash and recycling services,” said Carden. “These services, performed by private companies contracted by the county and paid by taxpayers, are essential towards maintaining a high quality of life in Gwinnett County.”
Carden said commissioners receive complaints ranging from trash not being picked up to trash trucks dripping fluids on neighborhood streets as well as companies retaliating against customers who lodge complaints against them.
One of the county’s solid waste haulers, Advanced Disposal, was recently acquired by Waste Management. Since then, residents have been going on websites such as Nextdoor to express their frustration with waste collection issues, such as problems with yard debris pickup and long waits to get Waste Management officials on the phone to lodge complaints.
Meanwhile, Gwinnett Solicitor Brian Whiteside held a meeting where residents had a chance to lodge complaints about trash pickup issues against another one of Gwinnett’s solid waste haulers, Waste Pro, last month.
One issue Carden said county leaders have to deal with is that county commissioners, in 2017 approved 10-year contracts with solid waste haulers. That contract was later amended in 2020 by a 3-1 margin, with Commissioner Ben Ku casting the dissenting vote and then-Commissioner Tommy Hunter not being present for the vote.
Three of the five seats on the board have changed hands since the hauler agreements were amended.
“I am frustrated that the previous Board of Commissioners would enter into a 10-year contract for trash collection service,” Carden said. “An agreement of this length is unusual and encourages waste haulers to be less responsive. However, I am committed to holding the haulers accountable to the terms of their contracts.”
Carden said he wants the county to implement a “secret shopper”-type program to get customer reviews of service providers, and to begin tracking, monitoring and reporting how waste management haulers do in key performance indicators such as incident call numbers, average wait times in service desk queues and how many incident calls require a follow-up.
That’s where the new committee comes in.
The committee would be on par with other boards, such as the Stormwater Authority, Airport Authority Board or the Zoning Board of Appeals. Each commissioner would get to appoint a member to the board.
The committee would oversee the haulers key performance indicator reports as well as meet quarterly with waste management providers, hold public forums and review and make recommendations on future waste management service contracts.
The county could then take “corrective action” if the reviews show a hauler is not abiding by the terms of its contract with the county, Carden said.
There are five trash haulers who have contracts to handle different regions of Gwinnett, according to the county’s website. Waste Management handles trash pickup in northwest Gwinnett while Republic Services, Inc. handles eastern Gwinnett; Sanitation Solutions Inc. handles northern Gwinnett; Southern Sanitation Inc. handles southern Gwinnett and Waste Pro of Georgia Inc. handles southwest Gwinnett.
Those county contracts do not affect Gwinnett cities that have their own separate contracts for trash pickup or operate their own sanitation departments.