NeWSolutions picking up on trash issues
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
8/01/12 at 12:31 PM
Correction: A Wednesday Tulsa World story on the new trash service incorrectly stated the number of customers. The city has 116,000 trash customers. This story has been corrected.
Read about Tulsa’s trash service changes.
Customer complaints about the city's new trash service have declined by about 60 percent since NeWSolutions took over July 2, city officials said Tuesday.
Andrew Huggins, the city's Solid Waste Systems superintendent, told the Tulsa Authority for Recovery of Energy, or trash board, that he thought the city's new hauler was doing a great job.
"As you well know, it is quite a battle for people working on the streets," Huggins said.
According to Huggins, the city received 1,072 complaints the first week of new service. In the subsequent three weeks, complaints have gone from 977 to 598 to 448.
Huggins said that slightly more than half of the complaints are coming from backyard customers. The city has implemented a marking system to ensure that the new hauler knows which customers have the backyard pickup service.
Darren Stefanek with the Public Works Department told board members that the city is taking steps to ensure that customers leave their trash out in time for pickup.
Last week, the city asked customers to get their trash out by 6 a.m. on collection day. The request was made after NeWSolutions found itself having to make several trips through some neighborhoods to reach every customer.
That service is no longer being provided.
Stefanek said the city is addressing the issue by having inspectors follow trash crews through problem areas and leave notes for customers whose trash has been left out late.
"They have gone over and above about going back and collecting," he said.
For most customers, the problem is simply getting used to a new routine after decades of service under the previous trash provider, Stefanek said.
"Either they have forgotten their day, or the guy (old hauler) never came by till 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock," Stefanek said. "That is usually the answer we are getting from them."
Huggins told board members that about 11,000 of the city's 116,000 trash customers have received their new trash and recycling carts.
The most common question the city is hearing about the new carts is, "What is the blue cart for?" Huggins said, referring to the recycling bin.
Distribution began in west Tulsa on July 16. From west Tulsa, distribution crews moved to north Tulsa - save for the 22,000 customers in the northwest quadrant served by the city of Tulsa - and will then move southward.
The northwest quadrant will receive its new carts last, in mid- to late September.
This week, Huggins said, distribution crews are in the "northeast part of the city up above (Interstate ) 244. I believe Wednesday or Thursday they will start in midtown."
Starting last month, most of the city, which had been serviced by Tulsa Refuse Inc., went to a three-month, abbreviated trash program with NeWSolutions.
The program was developed in two weeks by the new hauler and the city's trash board when TRI decided at the last minute that it couldn't continue collecting trash through the summer because of equipment and manpower difficulties.
NeWSolutions is conducting basic service until the new volume-based system launches Oct. 1.
Other action: The board voted unanimously to re-elect Cheryl Cohenour as chairwoman. The board also voted to make Randall Sullivan vice chairman, replacing William Bowles.
Officers serve three-year terms.
The board voted to extend for one month its temporary service agreement with The Metropolitan Environmental Trust. The agreement, which began in July, pays the MET $15,000 a month to provide additional recycling services while the city makes the transition to its new trash hauler.
Customers with questions about their trash service should call 918-596-9777.
Original Print Headline: Customers adjust to new trash hauler
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Gerardo Ponce, a worker at NeWSolutions, stacks new recycling carts last month. Solid Waste Systems Superintendent Andrew Huggins said Tuesday that carts have been delivered to 11,000 customers in west Tulsa and north Tulsa, with crews moving to midtown later this week. KT KING/Tulsa World file