If you’ve been staring out your window at an overflowing recycling can, wondering if it will ever be picked up, you’re not alone. The bad news: The wait likely isn’t over.
If your recycling is picked up on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday in Philadelphia, expect another round of delays due to Hurricane Isaias. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain and wind to the region beginning Tuesday. As a result, the city is suspending all recycling collections scheduled for Wednesday through Friday, asking residents to hold the items until next week’s collection.
Last week, pickup was suspended on Monday and Tuesday, but collection was resumed on those days this week, the Streets Department said.
These holdups are due to staff shortages and a steep increase in residential trash due to the pandemic, a department spokesperson said in a statement.
Garbage delays have been an issue in the city throughout the coronavirus shutdown. While waste collection is an essential service, city officials have repeatedly said a large number of employees calling out sick has delayed pickups.
At the same time, leaders of the sanitation workers’ union say their members are continuing to work despite fearing for their lives amid unsafe working conditions and improper protection from the virus. They have rallied for better personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and coronavirus testing. Union leaders said last month that at least 100 of the city’s 1,100 employees had tested positive.
Meanwhile, one city councilmember, Brian J. O’Neill, said he believed the delays were a “mini-strike” by the workers to pressure the city for hazard pay. O’Neill, a Republican representing the Northeast, called it “a public health crisis.”
While residents may continue to put out trash all week, the Streets Department noted that “severe weather can cause major delays with trash and recycling collection.”
The department said residents who are experiencing delays can haul their own trash and recycling to one of the city’s six Sanitation Convenience Centers between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
“The Streets Department understands the residents’ concerns with collection delays throughout the pandemic,” a spokesperson said, “and thanks them for their understanding, cooperation and support during this unprecedented crisis. "