Fairfax County, Virginia, is considering ways to potentially change the way trash is collected across the county following numerous complaints from residents about private companies being unresponsive and not picking up garbage.
“It’s truly aggravating,” said Jeff McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “I’ve gone through it myself as a customer.”
McKay said the board would review options during a meeting later this month, including the possibility of “restructuring entirely the way solid waste is collected in the county.”
One idea would be for the county to enter into franchise agreements directly with private haulers, giving the county more oversight and control over the process, according to McKay.
Another idea would be to make it easier for residents to petition to have the county collect their garbage.
“We’re looking at all options that we have to improve this situation,” McKay said.
Currently, the county only removes trash for about 10% of residents.
For the other 90%, private collection companies pick up trash. Residents are billed by the companies or pay via “homeowner association” fees.
The system was set up that way “decades ago,” McKay said.
“We frankly do a lot of other things in the county, and we didn’t really want to become a trash collection service for the entire county,” said McKay. “That structure has been in place for a very long time.”
McKay said one reason for the recent delays in private companies removing trash was labor shortages, including a shortage of truck drivers.
“I’m hearing from people all over the county so I think everyone’s being affected,” McKay said.
One of those people, Joe Rachinsky, lives in Fairfax, and said he went two weeks without trash being picked up in his neighborhood.
“It was piles of garbage at the curb,” Rachinsky said. “Especially with the weather we’ve had recently it was hot. It smelled. Flies and birds got into some of the garbage overnight in some cases. It was a real mess.”