Springfield down to two residential waste haulers

Republic Services takes over Waste Management routes

click to enlarge Springfield down to two residential waste haulers
Republic Services took over approximately 7,000 Waste Management residential customers in the city of Springfield, effective Feb. 1. Waste Management said alleys made service to certain parts of the city inefficient.

Waste Management transferred most of its residential business in Springfield to Republic Services because alleys made service to certain parts of the city inefficient, a company spokesperson said.

"Our company is moving more to automation," Lisa Disbrow, spokesperson for Waste Management of Illinois Inc., told Illinois Times on Feb. 6.

WM's increasing use of garbage trucks staffed with one person who drives and operates mechanical arms to pick up garbage containers has made it difficult to efficiently use Springfield's alleys to pick up trash in certain neighborhoods, Disbrow said.

The last-minute notification of WM's estimated 7,000 residential customers before the change took effect Feb. 1 prompted calls to Springfield city officials even though the city apparently doesn't control when a private waste hauler can exit and sell its routes to a competitor.

Mayor Misty Buscher said she has asked her administration's legal department to look into the city's rights under local ordinances in these situations and whether any local laws need to be tweaked. The city does limit how much waste haulers can charge.

Effective Feb. 1, Waste Management "divested" of its residential services in Springfield to all customers at single-family homes and multi-family homes with three or fewer units. The company continues to serve residential buildings with four or more units in the city, as well as commercial customers, according to Kristina LoRusso, community program coordinator in the Springfield Office of Public Works.

Disbrow wouldn't disclose financial terms of the deal between WM and Republic but said customers automatically transferred to Republic in the deal are free to switch to Lake Area Disposal & Recycling, the city's third and only locally owned garbage hauler.

WM continues to serve other residential and commercial customers in the area outside Springfield's corporate limits, she said.

The city only learned of the change a few days before it happened, LoRusso said.

"It was a private business decision," she said.

Affected residents have been calling the city "because they're a little upset the change took place," she said.

Former Waste Management customers who called Republic's help line initially were told they couldn't switch their service, LoRusso said, but that guidance was false, and the WM call center since then has been providing correct information.

Jacob Youngblood, general manager of Republic in Springfield, said in an emailed response to questions from Illinois Times that he wasn't aware of any customers being given incorrect information. He said the company is looking into the matter.

"Customers can choose their service provider as long as they operate within the city's ordinance," Youngblood said.

When asked why Republic decided to serve Waste Management residential customers, Youngblood said: "Our drivers and operations staff live, work and raise their families in the Springfield area. We care deeply about being a good neighbor and are committed to providing exceptional customer service."

Letters sent by Republic to former WM customers said their previous service days will continue as scheduled.

City officials said former WM customers are encouraged to retain the trash cans that WM provided.

"Republic Services will provide blue stickers to identify homes added to the new scheduled pickups," the city said in its online news announcements.

The Republic letter to customers said, "You may see changes to your service day or receive new recycling and solid-waste collection carts in the future, but we will let you know in advance of any changes."

The letter said people with questions about Republic Services should call 217-522-7797 or visit the company's website at RepublicServices.com.

Youngblood said in his email: "Our operations team members are developing new, efficient routes to ensure prompt service and our drivers spend time learning their new routes. That blend of experience and dedication will help ensure a smooth transition."

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer at Illinois Times. He can be reached at [email protected], 217-679-7810 or twitter.com/DeanOlsenIT.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include responses from Republic Services General Manager Jacob Youngblood.

Dean Olsen

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer for Illinois Times. He can be reached at:
[email protected], 217-679-7810 or @DeanOlsenIT.

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