The Big Change.
It has been four months since the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA) switched garbage and recycle service on the Peninsula from Allied Waste to Recology San Mateo County. Recology kicked off the new year with quite a bit of fanfare — between the distribution of brand new Smart Carts, and the parade of shiny new collection trucks rolling out of the facility, it was a certainly a noticeable change. Recology’s approach to a streamlined recycling curbside recycling program (no more sorting recyclables), and the automated pickup certainly seemed to be an appealing and progressive step above what Allied Waste was offering.
During the first few weeks of service there were certainly glitches, as one would expect from such a wholesale change. Some streets didn’t get their carts delivered on the designated week, and there were missed deliveries on other streets as they worked out kinks in the logistics. Even residents had adjustments to make with how to use the new carts. But with four months under the belt, one would expect that things should be working smoothly. But are they?
Over the past few weeks, I have asked friends and neighbors about their thoughts on the new service, and the answers I got back were surprisingly mixed. While to many, garbage pick-up is a “don’t care”, there were a surprising number of people who are not happy with the new service. One of the biggest complaints I hear about is about what you see below:
This nice little mess is what I found on my sidewalk last week when I came home from work. About a third of what was in the bin somehow ended up on the sidewalk when the robotic arm picked up the bin. I’m not sure how this could have happened, because the bin certainly wasn’t anywhere near full. But I guess there’s no policy in place at Recology about cleaning up after mishaps like these.
In another incident, a White Oaks resident looked on in amazement as the robotic arm deftly plucked their recycle bin — along with the front license plate of her car and a chunk of the front bumper. When they reported the incident to Recology customer service, they were left with the feeling that it was Recology who was the one being inconvenienced by the accident.
Finally, I watched the City Council meeting last week as the future of the San Carlos Fire Department was being hotly debated, one resident patiently waited his turn for his two minutes at the podium — not to discuss the fire issue, but to voice his dissatisfaction with his garbage pickup. So clearly, there are some bumps in the road with the new service.
And let’s not forget about the whole discussion of rate hikes for garbage service in the near future…
What Are Your Thoughts?
So, has the transition to Recology been a positive or negative experience for you? Or is it a don’t-care? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and vote in poll at the top of the right side-bar.
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