CARLSBAD — For many customers, Republic Services’ months-long rollout as the city’s new waste hauler has left much to be desired.
Since Republic Services launched on March 27 in Carlsbad, hundreds of residents have complained to both the city and the waste removal company about various issues. Customers have reported waiting weeks and sometimes months to receive their new trash and recycling carts, only to receive the wrong size. And some have still not received their new bins.
According to Republic, the rollout is scheduled to continue until the company begins service on July 1. The Carlsbad City Council selected Republic last year in a controversial decision to replace Waste Management, which did not bid to service residents and city facilities for the next 10 years.
Jamie Wood, the city’s environmental services manager, said at one point, the city asked Republic to pause its rollout as complaints piled up.
“We are hoping everything will be in everyone’s hands by July 1,” Wood said. “We’re getting some escalations, but we’re working with Republics and getting those taken care of. There’s a lot of lessons learned. This hasn’t been done in 10 years, and one of the things is the data and what you have on a sheet of paper versus what you see in the field are very different things.”
Republic General Manager Jim Groen said the company hired a subcontractor to replace 147,000 carts throughout the city, but “incorrect or missing” data from Waste Management may have contributed to logistical issues.
“At the beginning of the project, difficulty removing some old containers led to a backlog,” Groen said via email. “We paused deliveries for a week to catch up on removals and container change requests, and since then, the rollout has proceeded smoothly and according to schedule. We are now in week 12 of the 13-week project and will ensure that all residents have their containers before July 1.”
Leslie Gomez, who lives in Camino Hills, posted on June 11 that about 30% of her community still does not have the proper bins. According to Gomez, she contacted Republic about a green-colored organic waste bin but her efforts have been unsuccessful. Gomez said she has been storing food scraps in her freezer.
Others have criticized the council for making the change to Republic and chastised the company for a sloppy rollout. Residents also continue to voice concerns over the waste disposal company’s handling of a labor strike earlier this year in San Diego and fear another potential strike when the union’s contract with Republic in Carlsbad’s service area expires later this year.
In December 2021, more than 250 union sanitation drivers went on a month-long strike in San Diego and Chula Vista, a public labor dispute that left trash piling up at homes and businesses for weeks. After reaching an agreement, a Carmel Valley resident alleged the company continued to bill customers while trash services were suspended in various parts of San Diego County.
However, the city’s contract with Republic requires the company and union laborers to hash out their differences without disrupting waste removal services.
The city’s transition to Republic is also to comply with Senate Bill 1383, a statewide organic waste law that requires residents to separate trash and green waste, or organic food waste, into separate bins.
Republic is giving away free “Kitchen Caddies” from now through July, so residents have an in-home receptacle before transferring the waste into the green cart. According to a Republic spokesperson, the company will be handing out green waste caddies at this weekend’s Art in the Village and every week at the Farmer’s Market.
Green waste includes meat and fish, eggshells, bread, tea bags and coffee grounds, fruits, vegetables, expired food and soiled paper products such as pizza boxes and used paper plates.
The green waste will be composted into mulch at the company’s Otay Mesa facility and provided back to residents at free events. However, per the city’s staff report from last year’s meeting to select a new waste hauler, the mulch may contain microplastics.
As for the green bins, Wood said a delay was intentional as pickup doesn’t start until July 1, and the city didn’t want residents to have containers filled for weeks or months ahead of schedule with no means of removal.
“When organic material like food and yard waste breaks down in a landfill, it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas,” Groen said. “Diverting food and yard waste from landfills has the dual benefit of reducing emissions and recycling this material into a new product, like compost. In Carlsbad, food and yard waste will go to Republic’s new Otay Compost Facility in Chula Vista, which opened last fall and is the state’s first fully solar-powered compost facility.”
To contact Republic, residents can call 760-332-6464 or by email at [email protected].