Metro faces delayed trash collection as Red River Waste Solutions falls behind again

Metro Trash and Recycling
Posted at 6:10 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 20:07:37-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Problems with trash pickup have been ongoing in Metro Nashville for many residents.

"It's frustrating, but at the end of the day it's a public health issue. We have to pick up the trash," said District 26 Metro Council Member, Courtney Johnston.

She said the ongoing trash pickup issues are frustrating.

"So my question is what are we doing looking outside of the box, because we can't just say 'well, we can't get any trucks so we're just going to have to go home' and that's not an option," said Johnston. "We have to figure this out."

Red River is responsible for collecting 73% of Metro's trash, but the company, which is contracted by the city, has fallen behind yet again.

Metro Water oversees the city's Waste Services division.

"Of course Thanksgiving they got very far behind and we were required to help them with their trash. That is when we suspended curbside recycling and as you recall we suspended it so we could redirect the trucks that Waste Services uses for recycling to assist our contractor with trash pickup," said Manager of Strategic Communications for Metro Water Services, Sonia Allman.

But things were expected to return to normal on Feb. 1 — until now.

"We've seen a huge increase in complaints saying that Red River is behind," said Allman.

Metro Water, which oversees the city's Waste Services division, announced Monday that some residents should expect a one to two-day delay in trash pickup this week.

To help, Metro will take over three of Red River's daily trash collection routes until the company catches up.

But because Red River filed for bankruptcy in October 2021, the city cannot terminate its contract with the company. So for now, they're asking the court for help.

"Metro did file a motion and in that motion we have asked the courts to allow us to assign some of Red River's routes to another contractor," said Allman. The hearing on Metro's motion in the bankruptcy court is set for March 8.

Still, Johnston says the city should evaluate other options, like taking over responsibility for trash pickup.

"So do I think that we're going to continually have delayed trash pickups? Unfortunately, yes I do unless and until we can figure out a way to get more trucks, a way to bring other contractors in, I don't see this going away," she said.

Metro Water is hoping to have trash collection complete by the end of this week. Allman said as of now, there should be no effect on Metro's curbside recycling service. During the meantime, Allman said you can skip the wait and take up to two bags of trash to any of Metro's four convenience centers.