- Officials from Freetown, East Longmeadow and South Hadley, all in Massachusetts, are expressing concern with delays in collection from Republic Services and, in some cases, threatening contracts with the company, as reported by Mass Live and South Coast Today.
- Michael Sullivan, town administrator of South Hadley, told Waste Dive in an interview that, between Thanksgiving and Jan. 22, collections from Republic had "dropped precipitously." Sullivan said Republic had been "stellar" up until Thanksgiving, and that the town's contract with the company is up in June, so the service interruptions "happened at a difficult time" for the company.
- "We continue to work tirelessly to get caught up in the local areas, amid the winter weather conditions," Adam Grier, general manager of Republic Services said in an emailed statement. Grier also said the company was committed to working safely and thanked communities for being patient during service disruptions. Jennifer Eldridge, a Republic spokesperson, told Waste Dive she recognizes why communities are frustrated. "I completely understand that [service interruptions] definitely plays a role" in contract negotiations, she said.
The holiday season, which reliably means more municipal waste, was paired this year with freezing conditions and snowfall, creating what Eldridge called a "perfect storm" that delayed collection in parts of Massachusetts. If there is no more inclement weather, which is the current forecast, Eldridge said Republic should be caught up this week.
In Freetown, local officials said Republic Services could be in violation of contract, as "everyone is entitled to trash pickup once a week." Lisa Pacheco, the town chairperson, said Freetown shouldn't have to "babysit" Republic and keep fielding complaints, which officials say have been coming in sine July. That contract is up in a year and a half.
South Hadley officials considered bringing in an additional contractor to fill the gaps Republic was leaving, but the contract, up in June, would not have allowed for that. Residents were asked to leave their trash on the curbside even if it was not the scheduled pickup date. And in East Longmeadow, where reports say service disruptions began after Christmas, Republic said it was bringing in extra trucks from out of state to make up for missed pickups. Republic's contract in East Longmeadow isn't up until 2020.
Republic recently faced prominent contract issues in Florida, after hurricanes disrupted service in Polk County and local relations were already tense. Ultimately, the county settled with Republic — though not before issuing a notice of default. While none of these Massachusetts communities have expressed an interest in taking that approach, especially since the weather appears to be clearing up, the prolonged period of disrupted service will almost certainly factor into upcoming contract negotiations.