The Acreage and other parts of unincorporated Palm Beach County began garbage pickup under a new Solid Waste Authority contract this week with unhappy reviews from some customers over the new 96-gallon containers, a 6-cubic-yard weekly limit on yard trash and other issues.
Social media had several posts of different problems associated with the new system, including missed pickups, wheels falling off the new containers and failure of the SWA to include instructions with delivery of the new containers.
Indian Trail Improvement District President Betty Argue said ITID was not involved with the SWA decision to incorporate a new system. “My understanding is that there is a new contract that [began] Oct. 1 with new rules,” Argue told the Town-Crier on Tuesday. “The biggest difference is that everybody has a new trash can provided by the SWA. There’s specific directions on how you have to have your garbage can placed at the side of the road because they are going to be implementing new trucks that have an automated arm that comes out and picks up the garbage can and dumps it.”
According to SWA instructions available at www.swa.org, garbage collection will be twice a week using the new gray cart. All garbage must be placed inside the cart and be at the curb by 6 a.m. on the regularly scheduled collection day.
Bulk waste, such as refrigerators, sofas or area rugs, will be picked up one day a week and are limited to three items each pickup.
Yard waste will be one day per week and limited to 6 cubic yards at a time. Residents can no longer put out larger piles of yard waste that were previously permitted. Residents with more than 6 cubic yards of debris can contact the SWA beforehand, and they will receive a surcharge for the overage.
Recycling pickup has not changed, except that customers no longer must cut cardboard down to size. Just remove protective packaging such as plastic bags and foam. Boxes can be broken down and placed between the two recycling bins.
If the new container is not enough, Argue said residents can purchase an additional can for $65. However, approved containers must be used.
“If you put a bag of garbage out, it will not be collected,” she said. “If you use any other garbage can, it will not be collected.”
She said residents are concerned that the 6-cubic-yard limit will bring unintended consequences.
“There’s a prevalent feeling that there is going to be a lot of illegal dumping as a result of these changes,” Argue said. “They may be appropriate for an urban area with smaller properties and smaller families, but we have larger properties out here, and we have more need for a larger amount of debris removal. Rather than negotiate a contract that fits our needs, they are limiting us.”
Resident Diana Demarest said there has been much confusion and a lack of information that was supposed to have been provided to residents to ease the transition. She said her SWA correspondence has given conflicting information.
For example, Demarest said there is confusion among residents whether to use old cans for yard trash or not. “I don’t know what they are doing,” she said. “I just don’t know.”
Resident Howard Zusel said information that was supposed to have been provided with the new can has not been, but he has taken it upon himself to supply information to some of his neighbors. He also feels that residents have lost out with the new service.
“It’s going to save the county a tremendous amount of money, but it’s not going to be beneficial to the residents, in my opinion,” Zusel said. “They’re giving us less service. The cans are heavier. I’m disabled, and my wife was injured in a car accident. Schlepping those things down to the curb is not going to be easy when they’re full. I just don’t see the benefit other than to the garbage companies and the county.”
He said he called the SWA three times to get informational brochures.
“They weren’t returning my calls. I left messages. I called and talked to people at the SWA, and I was getting nowhere,” Zusel said.
He finally called an SWA representative who spoke at a recent public meeting, who put him in touch with a representative who supplied the information that he shared with his neighbors.
“According to the video, you’re supposed to have gotten it,” he said. “I didn’t get it, and I found out that a couple of my neighbors didn’t get it.”
Argue said that ITID will monitor illegal dumping to see if it increases. “ITID does not have the authority for trash removal,” she said. “That is a county authority.”
Argue added that the county recently changed solid waste removal contracts, which exacerbated the confusion among residents.
“For the past month and a half, the service has completely deteriorated,” she said. “We had complaints before about debris. Now we have complaints about debris, trash, recyclables and even household goods.”
Argue said it is important to report issues to the SWA. “If there’s any problems, people need to report it to the SWA, because if they don’t know about it, they don’t know that their subcontractors are violating the contract,” she said.