Holidays mean extra work for garbage pickup

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is a time of joy and giving, of love and hope, and ofbig piles of extra garbage bags in front of houses.

Waste Management District Manager Jim Funderburg said while mostfamilies are enjoying tearing into Christmas gifts galore, thebrightly-colored mess left in the wake of the festivity can reallyrack up the time solid waste workers spend on the job.

“It’s probably an extra eight hours – it’s almost two days ofwork we put in one day volume-wise,” he said.

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Funderburg said Christmas is one of only three days a year thatWaste Management workers are off. He said that makes for a verylong day for his guys when they resume work.

“It’s the sheer volume. When you think about it, it’s a lot oftrash,” he said. “You’ve got people in from out of town, so whereGrandma’s house usually has only two bags, now there’s six oreight.”

Instead of pickup on Christmas day Tuesday, garbage collectionis scheduled to be done on Friday in the Brookhaven city limits andon Saturday in Lincoln County.

Funderburg went on to explain that more garbage means not onlymore work, but more trips for the trucks.

“The more garbage is out there, the more the trucks fill up, andthey have to go back and unload, and it takes more time,” hesaid.

Brookhaven Sanitation Department Supervisor Willie Smith saidhis workers will do double-duty after Christmas, too. Whilesanitation workers are only supposed to pick up limbs and leaves,he said the Christmas season brings extra work for his departmentin general as well.

“We have all the leaves that are falling, and people won’t pileit up,” he said. “It’ll be the whole length of the curve, and wehave to rake it up.”

He said the wrappings and boxes are quite a problem when theymix into the trash in the yard.

“Sometimes they’ll throw all that stuff in there with theleaves, and if we pick it up, we have to charge them and then turnand pay Waste Management to dispose of it,” he said.

Funderburg said a problem many people don’t think about aroundthe holidays is the safety of street workers, whether they begarbage collectors, delivery men, or public servants.

“Right after Christmas is a big shopping time as much as beforethe Christmas,” he said. “A whole lot of people are out and aboutand this time of year. People don’t pay attention to other peopleworking. I’ve had three of the workers on the back of trucks gethit by cars.”

He said there had been accidents with Waste Management truckseven in the last week where drivers were not looking where they’regoing.

“We need drivers on the road to be aware that we’re out there,”he said. “And it’s not just us, it’s UPS, FedEx, mailmen – anyoneon the streets really.”