omaha trash pickup (copy) (copy) (copy)

Waste Management employee Tommy Whitfield hauls trash in Omaha in 2017.

Waste Management is facing $72,454 in penalties for collection complaints and for not picking up yard waste separately from garbage.

Stothert said Friday that the city expects Waste Management, the City of Omaha’s trash hauler, to provide timely and complete service.

“We will continue monthly reviews of service-related complaints and assess additional financial penalties as allowed by our contract,” she said in a statement.

A Waste Management spokeswoman said in a statement that the company has made “exhaustive efforts” to provide the best service possible and meet the contract’s requirements. She also apologized to residents for any interruptions in service.

The penalty includes a $28,454 fine due to excessive complaints. The fine is calculated by the number of complaints and the number of collection days in the month.

The city last month received 1,609 complaints about trash pickup. Most were about garbage and recycling collection; 365 were about yard waste pickup. (The city can fine Waste Management if it receives more than 1,000 complaints about garbage and recycling and 700 about yard waste.)

The rest of the penalty — $44,000 — is tied to the company not providing separate yard waste collection across the city.

Waste Management is supposed to collect the city’s yard waste separately from garbage from April until roughly Thanksgiving. The city pays more than $3 per household monthly for that service.

It’s collected separately so that yard waste can go to the city’s composting facility. But yard waste mixed with garbage is hauled to the landfill.

Waste Management started citywide separate collection late this year and, as of last month, was picking up yard waste separately only from residences between Interstate 680 and 72nd Street.

Waste Management spokeswoman Lisa Disbrow said Friday that the company is still providing separate collection in that area “as we are able to.”

A spokeswoman from the Mayor’s Office said that the company has not successfully collected yard waste separately anywhere in the city since July 5.

“It’s been a struggle for our drivers and the heat,” Disbrow said. “It’s been over 90 degrees every day this week. This is a physically demanding job.”

Disbrow said the company has 74 drivers — up from 73 last month — and an additional 12 drivers in training. Waste Management has previously said it needs 97 drivers to pick up yard waste separately from garbage across the city.

Disbrow noted that the company is now offering $6,500 in bonuses for new CDL drivers.

Stothert’s statement said that Waste Management told the city it will not be able to fill the separate yard waste collection requirement because it doesn’t have enough drivers.

Still, Stothert said the city will continue to fine Waste Management each month it doesn’t provide the separate collection.

The city pays Waste Management about $16 million a year to collect and dispose of trash, yard waste and recyclables from about 140,000 households in the city. Separate yard waste pickup makes up about one-quarter of the cost.

Councilman Brinker Harding praised Stothert’s announcement, saying any contractor that provides city service needs to perform.

“It sends a message that the city’s going to enforce the contract,” he said.

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