Waste hauler getting up to speed

Some homes and businesses in central Indiana are going days – or in some cases, weeks – without getting their garbage picked up as one trash service merges into another.

Last September, the Houston, Texas-based Waste Management, Inc. announced it was acquiring Ray’s Trash Disposal, headquartered east of Indianapolis. Ray’s is identified on the Bartholomew County Solid Waste District as one of the three major private waste disposal and recycling services in Columbus and Bartholomew County.

While there have been a number of complaints from Ray’s/Waste Management customers who say their garbage has not been picked up, most of the problem is in or near Indianapolis, Columbus Department of Public Works director Bryan Burton said.

Some of the longest delays in trash pickup have taken place in Hendricks County, where Ray’s headquarters in Clayton, is located.

While Burton says this has not been a significant problem in Bartholomew County, he has seen a few places where trash is piling up. Local customers of Ray’s, now Waste Management, are usually contracted by multi-family complexes or industrial clients.

But since Columbus has its own sanitation department, the only contract the city has with Ray’s, now Waste Management, is to take recyclable items, Burton said.

“And we are the ones who bring the material to them,” Burton said.

Ray’s Trash Disposal has accounts at the Bartholomew County Landfill that have not yet transitioned to Waste Management, county executive Tina Douglas said.

But if garbage has remained untouched for weeks in isolated residential areas, Burton said complaints would likely have been routed to the Bartholomew County Solid Waste District.

“We haven’t received any phone calls from residents wondering about trash pickup delays,” SWD executive director Heather Siesel said. The only relationship the district had with Ray’s is that they have picked up paper retriever binds at the Recycling Center on South Mapleton Street, she said.

When asked about Waste Management’s impact on residential trash pick when compared to other private services like Rumpke’s or Best Way, Siesel described it as minimal.

The Bartholomew County Commissioners have also not received complaints about piled up trash, Douglas said. But she did acknowledge that Ray’s/Waste Management does have a small number of contracts in Bartholomew County – mostly among large haulers, she said.

Multiple calls to authorities with Waste Management Inc. to inquire about pickup delays in Bartholomew County have not been returned. But on its website, the corporation stated equipment problems and staffing shortages have been behind these issues within their central Indiana service area.

“Waste Management sincerely apologizes for the delay in service related to the Ray’s Trash Service transition and expects significant improvement in the coming weeks,” the company wrote on its website.

Waste Management is the contracted trash provider for the city of Franklin and picks up trash for other areas of Johnson County. Franklin officials say they have noticed an improvement and believe that services are on their way to normalizing, they said.

When the transition is completed, all Waste Management trucks will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology that provides GPS tracking and instant routing notifications to ensure safe and timely service, company officials said.

Part of the problem relates to supply chain issues, which is causing a delay in the delivery of the new trucks, according to Waste Management officials.

While older garbage trucks are being used in the interim, the company said more than 22 drivers have been deployed to help recover service as quickly as possible.