No yard waste pickups for half-dozen local communities

No yard waste pickups for half-dozen local communities

Area residents will have to find creative means to store or dispose of their leaves and sticks after MTG Disposal put yard waste pickup services on hold.

Six communities in northern Rhode Island will be without yard waste and bulky household item pickup service at a time when more people are cleaning their properties inside and out due to being stuck at home.

MTG Disposal this week asked their partner cities and towns to agree to suspending yard waste and bulky item pickups indefinitely due to the impact of the coronavirus. The company is planning to continue with regular trash and recycling pickups on a normal schedule.

Impacted local communities are Cumberland, North Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Smithfield, and North Smithfield, said Steve Mutter of MTG, which also has contracts with other communities across the state.

Local officials acknowledged what an inconvenience this is to residents, but said they understand why MTG (Mega) has to implement it.

Dylan Zelazo, chief of staff to Mayor Donald Grebien in Pawtucket, said it’s a positive that the city was able to start pickups weeks earlier than normal this year so at least residents had the chance to “get rid of stuff they had.” He said MTG representatives assured him Monday that they’ll be restoring the service as soon as possible, which seemed reasonable. He said the company will pick up items there this week and then suspend service next week. Residents are still able to bring items to the city transfer station, he said.

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi said he’s expecting this to last at least a month. He asked residents in his town to keep yard waste such as leaves and sticks in their yard “until further notice.” Lombardi said he will be discussing the financial cost of the pickups with the finance department now that the service isn’t being rendered.

North Smithfield DPW Director Ray Pendergast said in an email that he expects MTG to reassess the situation in two weeks.

Steve Mutter, no relation to Mayor Jeff Mutter in Cumberland, said MTG has experienced “a small amount of its workforce with flu-like symptoms,” and the company isn’t sure where those cases will go. He said to make sure there is enough personnel, the company will focus on trash and recycling as the priorities.

Mutter said MTG believes there is a high degree of likelihood that bulky items such as furniture might carry the virus, and they don’t want to expose workers to that situation. He said such an ask is not unnecessary or unreasonable.

MTG is also seeing an uptick in regular trash being put out because people are “getting stir crazy” and cleaning out their homes, as well as throwing out the items that come with takeout meals, he said. The company is seeing an increase of some 15 percent in trash disposal in some communities.

“That is putting a little bit of a strain on collection,” he said, meaning where if one truck could have taken on all trash from a route before, it might now take a truck and a quarter and place more of a burden on the company.

Mutter said MTG has gotten good cooperation, specifically mentioning Cumberland, and he’s assured municipal leaders that things will return to normal as soon as the COVID-19 situation quiets down.