COLLECTION – AmWaste’s garbage truck was out and about collecting garbage Thursday morning. After multiple hurdles, the company is working to get back on track throughout the city and parish.

Parish and city officials have been keeping in contact with AmWaste as the company works to catch up on its garbage collections.

Parish President Robby Miller and Council Chairman Carlo Bruno recently spoke with the company’s operations vice president to let him know there is still some more work to be done as the company is not caught up yet.

AmWaste’s district manager, Dustin Fortenberry, attended Hammond’s city council meeting on Tuesday to answer questions, apologize for the unforeseen issues and explain what the company has done to alleviate them.

Fortenberry explained that to overcome recent hurdles, AmWaste has hired a third party maintenance company to complete maintenance on their trucks, as well as ordering three new trucks.

Three rental ones are currently being used to maintain routes in the meantime, he said.

The company will absorb these costs as it looks long-term to retain business and keep residents happy, he added.

Issues with garbage pickup began in March when AmWaste started seeing a 35 percent average increase in volume of trash being set out, which affected their routes and route times, he said.

“We start at 5 a.m. and start collecting the route. If the truck is full at 5 p.m., they cannot bring trash anywhere until next morning,” Fortenberry said. “We would pick up as much as we can on Monday, then Tuesday you finish Monday, and then it snowballs through the week at times.”

Another hurdle came about when staff stopped showing up to work.

The bad problem got worse when people who work on the back of the trucks saw they could make more money elsewhere.

AmWaste normally has 20-25 people on the back of trucks per day, but only 6-8 people started showing up. Trucks that would have started at 5 a.m. had to wait until 8 or 9 a.m. for workers to be found, Fortenberry said.

Equipment and vehicle maintenance problems became another hurdle as the company struggled to recruit mechanics.

“There’s really nothing I can do about that other than go to plan B,” Fortenberry said.

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