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St. Louis City recycling remains on hold due to staff, truck shortages

By ALEXIS ZOTOS

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    ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — Janet Webber lugs a car full of recycling to the drop off location at Kingshighway every few weeks.

“I’m trying to do my part,” said Webber, who lives in Soulard.

Since at least August 2021, St. Louis City’s alley recycling has been on pause due to staff shortages.

In November the city said they were making progress thanks to $3,000 hiring bonuses, but months later there is still no option for many residents who use alleyway recycling.

“I’m a taxpayer, it’s really frustrating,” said Webber.

According to an email from Feb 1 obtained by News 4, the issue continues to be staffing.

“To restart the recycling program, we need 45 drivers and 45 trucks. We have 37-40 drivers now; however, the number is fluctuating between new hires, retirements, and individuals who were not successful. None of the unsuccessful candidates made it past their probationary period so they did not receive the bonus. We do not have 45 trucks running every week due to mechanical issues, there are instances when we are down to 35 trucks. We have brought in a contractor to do the mechanical work to keep the trucks running.,” read the email from the mayor’s liaison to the board of aldermen.

There is an industry-wide challenge of finding drivers, but at Republic Services, which provides trash and recycling pickup to 39 municipalities across the area and several districts in St. Louis County, they are working to address it with better pay and benefits

“We are 100 percent staffed,” said Susan Piazza with Republic Services.

They said they have talked to the city in the past about services, but a spokesperson for the City of St. Louis said the focus was on hiring more drivers.

Currently there is no timeline for when recycling could resume but the City of St. Louis has entered into a pilot program with Rubicon, a software company that uses technology to assess efficient ways to improve the waste and recycling programs.

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