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'It had to be done': City of Bradenton suspends curbside recycle pick up

Starting June 3, the city will open 10 locations across the city where residents can drop off their recycled items at their own convenience.

BRADENTON, Fla. — A staffing shortage has led to the suspension of the recycling program in the City of Bradenton.

Despite staggering waste collection times to help over-stretched crews to catch up, the City of Bradenton has been unable to keep up. That's why it has suspended curbside recycling pick up indefinitely.

Starting June 3, city crews will no longer carry out recycling collection at the curbside of homes. Instead, those services will convert to drop-off centers throughout Bradenton.

City officials said the change has become necessary because of a staffing shortage in the Public Works and Utilities Department. They said there are not enough drivers to get trucks into neighborhoods to pick up waste efficiently. The priority is to get non-recyclable household waste out of homes faster than they are currently able to do and thus are refocusing their assets there. They are now setting up 10 locations across the city where residents can drop off their recycled items at their own convenience.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life, but I knew it had to be done because we weren't meeting the needs of the city," Jim McLellan, Director, Public Works and Utilities, said.

The city has purchased specialized tamper-proof containers with safety locks for the top lid to prevent dumpster diving. City leaders also advise residents to clean the items they wish to recycle before putting them in their collection boxes or bins.

"Clean and dry, that's are our emphasis when you recycle something," McLellan said. "We've heard people say I don't want to take my dirty cans and bottles, of course, you don't, we don't want them either because we want them clean and dry. That's what gets recycled."

"We think it'll be much more economical, it'll be more reliable and it'll cost less," City administrator Rob Perry added.

Like many municipalities, Bradenton has struggled to fill certain positions including specialized equipment operations such as garbage trucks. There are currently about a dozen such positions still vacant.

RELATED: City of Bradenton makes changes to recycling pickup

"We've provided financial sign-in bonuses, we've increased the hourly wage by $2.74 an hour and we've done all types of other things to encourage it," Perry said. "It's a difficult job for sure and it's a situation where there's a labor shortage in America and a labor shortage in Florida. We are doing what a lot of local government, cities and counties and the likes are doing to get creative and improve on solid waste and at the same time be operationally and economically efficient."

"We have a few more drivers in the pipeline to hopefully bring on board but ultimately I need to have no more than three or four vacancies before I can really do what we need to do," McLellan said.

Before June 3, city officials are urging residents to visit the city website to learn about what they can recycle and how to bring in those items. They are also sending a reminder that pizza boxes are not recyclable and items to be recycled should not be put into plastic bags. 

Residents can drop off their recycled items at any of these locations below:

1. East end of San Ortebello Drive adjacent to our elevated water tower.
2. 100 22nd St. NE in the parking area adjacent to the city lift station
3. 1000 24th St. E. adjacent to the Dream Center
4. Cordova Lakes Dead End at 38th Ave. W./61st St. W. (will replace yard waste container there)
5. 17th Ave. W. Park at Wares Creek, adjacent to lift station
6. Lewis Park parking lot, 3120 1st Ave. W.
7. 9th Ave. W. (between 63rd and 64th St. W.), north side of the road
8. Palma Sola Causeway, 9800 SR 64 W, adjacent to solid waste dumpster
9. 28th St. W. Park @ 2718 13th Ave. W., at the opening in the split rail fence
10. Red Cross Building Loop Road 2905 59th St. W.

RELATED: Polk County recycling returns, state of emergency extended

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