Trash trouble grows for Republic Services who hasn’t removed refuse in some areas for days; ‘It’s not okay’

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INDIANAPOLIS — Republic Services and the Indianapolis Department of Public Works has received hundreds of phone calls in the last week from paying customers who say their trash hasn’t been picked up for days. 

The situation is perhaps most intense at the Reflections Apartments along Silverleaf Drive, where mountains of trash have grown – the complex telling FOX59 their refuse hasn’t been removed in days. 

In a joint statement released on August 20th, the Indy DPW & Republic Services said:

“The Indianapolis Department of Public Works (Indy DPW) leadership met with Republic Services of Indianapolis earlier this week to discuss the recent challenge with trash collection in the community. Solid waste organizations have not been exempt from the staffing and other pandemic-related issues many organizations and companies are currently experiencing. Republic is aware of the situation and has identified the issues causing the delays, including staffing, shortage of truck parts, and the continued increase in solid waste volume. Republic has made internal changes concerning staffing this week and anticipates completing all Friday routes before the end of the week, with no down routes or trash sitting over the weekend. Indy DPW and Republic Services are hopeful these adjustments will resolve the situation and result in the collection of all routes moving forward. DPW has a long-standing and successful partnership with Republic Services going back more than 20 years and is confident that Republic Services will work through these temporary challenges and provide the highest level of customer service to residents moving forward”

But the problem hasn’t been resolved, as their target date, Friday the 21st, has come and past, trash still sits – the pile grows by the hour.

“Bottom line is that fix it and fix it now. A week, a week and a half, a few days is too long. Period,” a Reflections Apartments resident said. “That statement is a communication spokesperson’s answer. When they go home at night, they don’t have this. We have to pull up to this, and we have to live like this. If that trash, like this, was sitting by my door… they would evict me. That’s unfair.”

Bags of trash containing all sorts of food waste, dog feces, television sets, vacuum cleaners, fast food bags, and beer cans fill two separate areas at the apartment complex – and with nowhere left to take their trash, residents keep piling it up. 

“We’re gonna have rats here soon. Mice, we already have squirrels and other things getting into the trash,” a resident said. “Can you only imagine by the end of the week what it’s gonna smell like here if we keep adding this up? It’s not okay.”

The apartment complex like many others, including homeowners, is left to the mercy of service providers like Republic who have been working through staffing issues and parts shortages for their trucks – they sent a voicemail message to customers which said. 

“We are recently experiencing some residential collection delays in the area and our focus will be on trash removal,” the voicemail message sent by Republic Services to their customers on August 16th said. “We are working to get caught up. We apologize for any disruptions this may be causing and we appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.”

That patience and understanding is wearing thin for folks like Veronica Cundiff who works as the Community Manager for Reflections Apartments. 

“I’ve been on the phone since Monday morning – trying to get in touch with somebody because I don’t want my residents have to drive by this. It smells. It looks bad. It’s a mile high… that’s not what I want for my community,” Cundiff said. “I’ve called them today three or four times… I actually had to call from a personal cell phone because they wouldn’t answer my calls anymore.”

Cundiff says Republic had told her the trash would be removed by the end of the day Tuesday – that did not happen. 

“I want them to stick to their word. They’ve told me twice now that it would be picked up and it hasn’t been and I’m disgusted by that,” Cundiff said. “I want it gone. And I want it gone now.”

FOX59 reached out to both the Indy DPW and Republic Services for updated comments on this story. They said their spokespeople were unavailable but did say DPW contract monitors continued to investigate reports of missed trash service, DPW leadership sat down with local Republic Services management on Wednesday, August 18 to discuss how it would address the challenges it is facing. DPW also confirmed it will seek liquidated damages in line with procedures outlined in the Republic contract over the issue of missed service.

DPW says Republic leadership took full responsibility and hopes for a speedy return to providing the residents in its districts with service.

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