Saint Paul officials want answers from the city’s consortium of five residential trash haulers, after receiving almost 3,000 complaints about missed garbage and yard waste pickups in the first 10 days of June. The missed pickups are a big increase from usual complaints, and are seen as a violation of the city’s contract with the haulers.

Some ire is directed at Waste Management, which has suspended yard waste pickup throughout the Twin Cities due to staffing issues. The city’s contract requires the Saint Paul Haulers LLC consortium to provide backup drivers if a company cannot fulfill its obligations and staff its routes.

The city has assessed $81,200 in damages against Waste Management. Waste Management, in turn, issued a statement saying it recognizes the issues and is working to improve service.

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A June 10 letter to the haulers from Assistant City Attorney Ian Welsh stated that city officials are considering how to address the failures to provide service. Restoration of regular service and compensation for missed service are concerns.

Mayor Melvin Carter was to meet with company representatives last week. City officials are seeking a plan from consortium members as to how they intend to provide back-up garbage and yard waste service to Waste Management customers, a communications plan for those customers, and confirmation that Waste Management will provide credit to affected customers.

The city’s Department of Public Works is documenting reported collection misses and is exercising all the options under the contract to hold Waste Management and the consortium accountable. 

Saint Paul moved to organized residential trash collection in fall 2018. The current contract with the five-hauler consortium expires in 2023 and is under study by a city trash task force.

Officials are also urging residents whose collections are missed to make reports. The city will post any updates or collection plans it receives at stpaul.gov/garbage.

— Jane McClure

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