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    St. Louis to resume alley recycling pickup Tuesday | Politics

    ST. LOUIS — City refuse crews next week will resume separate weekly collection of recycled items in areas with alley dumpsters — a service suspended last July amid a shortage of trash truck operators.

    City officials said Wednesday that the hiring of nine new operators, the hiring of and contracting with additional mechanics and the deployment of several new trash trucks will allow the pickups to start again.

    The first day will be Tuesday, the day after the Memorial Day weekend. The recycling pickup will be in addition to weekly trash collection in such neighborhoods, which make up about 80% of the city.

    “I would like to say to all St. Louisans today … I’ve heard your concerns about restarting recycling and that is the reason we are here today,” Streets Department director Betherny Williams said at a news conference at a city refuse facility on Central Industrial Drive in midtown. 

    The delay in restoring regular recycling pickup in much of the city had been a nagging problem for Mayor Tishaura O. Jones’ administration, which had hoped to get the issue resolved months ago.

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    Since the suspension began, residents of affected neighborhoods who still wanted to recycle had to transport items themselves to more than 25 locations around the city where the material was still being gathered for proper processing.

    The delay prompted one alderman, Joe Vaccaro of the 23rd Ward, in March to call for a reduction in the city’s $14-a-month trash collection charge along with partial refunds for past months without recycling service.

    Meanwhile, separate weekly residential pickups of recyclables and trash continued in other neighborhoods where individual rollcarts are used. That includes areas without alleys.

    Officials also announced Wednesday that the city refuse division had begun an ongoing geographic information system analysis of refuse collection in the city to determine which areas generate the most and least amounts of trash.

    “We are using that information to make strategic adjustments to allow us to provide both refuse and … recycling collections and get the most out of our current resources,” said Nancy Cross, director of operations in the mayor’s office.

    The city also will use the data to base future assignment of trucks and employees on a monthly basis. It’s possible in coming months, Williams said, that some routes with higher amounts of trash per dumpster will get more than once-a-week trash pickup.

    Williams and Refuse Commissioner Todd Waelterman said the city still has about 10 driver vacancies.

    The city continues to offer a $3,000 hiring bonus for new drivers. So far two of the new hires have qualified after completing a six-month probationary period, mayoral spokesman Nick Desideri said.

    Last week Alderman Sharon Tyus, 1st Ward, in an email to the mayor, Williams and others, complained that she had been told that Williams and Waelterman decided that certain parts of largely Black north St. Louis  with dumpsters would get only weekly trash pickup while other areas of the city would get trash collection twice weekly.

    Williams said in an interview that no decision had been made on expanded trash pickup. “This is a waste issue,” she said. “It is not a race issue. It is not a ward issue. This is looking at the data for solid waste collection.”

    A map distributed at the news conference delineated lower- and higher-yield areas of refuse produced. Many, but not all, of the lower-yield areas are on the north side.



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