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Waste Management explains Lynn’s holiday trash pickup delays

LYNN — The company the city uses for weekly trash pickup conceded it ran into a few problems in the weeks following Christmas, and has vowed to correct them so that future cleanups can proceed smoothly.

Jim Nocella, director of public sector services for Waste Management Co., said that issues resulting in late pickups, or forced Lynners to keep their trash out a second night to be picked up the next day, came as the result of a “perfect storm” of circumstances, not the least of which was the refuse itself.

“We are concerned,” said Nocella. “We understand that people expect us to complete services on the appointed day.”

Ward Councilor Rick Starbard said he fielded numerous complaints from constituents in his area of the city about barrels, yard waste, and discarded Christmas trees being left on the curbs at the end of the day. And he is so concerned about it that the subject will be addressed at a meeting later this month in his ward, with a representative of Waste Management present.

“This has been a year-long problem,” Starbard said. “They’re (Waste Management) scrambling. I’ve seen streets where the trash is picked up on one side, and not the other. A lot of people are wound up about it.”

Last week, Starbard sent out a bulletin to residents from Ward 2 addressing the situation. In the communique, Ed Pacek from Waste Management’s public sector solutions department, said that while the company anticipated a post holiday increase in the amount of refuse to be collection, mechanical difficulties derailed plans to deal with it in a timely way.

“I know the frustration is very real for residents,” Pacek wrote to Starbard in an email. “I can assure you that I have escalated this issue on our end and we are doing all we can to get the necessary trucks up and running so that we can catch up.”

Nocella that a cold snap right after New Year’s, just when there was a preponderance of yard waste and Christmas trees put out to the curb, exacerbated the problem by causing trucks to break down.

But, he said, there were other factors.

First, he said, it was a stormier-than-usual fall, which caused more yard waste as a result.

“Yard debris can be difficult,” he said. “A lot of people are, just now, putting it out on waste pick-up days, and that tends to slow things down. There is definitely more of it this fall than last fall, probably about 30 percent more material.”

He also said the first week or two after Christmas can slow down collectors because of the trees that need to be picked up.

“All of that going on at once, it can tax the system,” Nocella said. And conditions that are less than optimal can slow it down, he said.

Nocella said that once these conditions level off to the normal cycle, “we should be OK.

“We obviously try to finish the job on the same day,” he said. “We definitely take this seriously, and it has gotten our attention.”

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