City Responds to Solid Waste Management Crisis with Comprehensive Plan
Today, the City of New Orleans outlined a near-term plan aimed at solving the solid waste management crisis that is plaguing our neighborhoods. Following an insufficient response to a nationwide emergency procurement for additional solid waste collection, the City is pushing forward with a multi-pronged approach to alleviate the trash build up throughout the city, leveraging resources from internal City departments and partner agencies, as well as operational Mardi Gras clean up expertise.
Richard’s Disposal and Metro Services Group resumed limited solid waste collection on Thursday, Sept. 2 in Service Areas 1 (orange) and 2 (green), respectively, with reduced staffing to address an exorbitant amount of solid waste, leading to collection routes taking three to five times longer than usual.
On Wednesday, Sept. 8, the City issued an emergency procurement to provide additional solid waste collection. The response period was extended by three calendar days until Monday, Sept. 13 to provide more time for bidders to respond. There were two respondents for the Service Area 1 procurement, one of which was deemed non-responsive. The responsive bidder for Service Area 1 was Ramelli Waste, LLC (Ramelli).
The City’s contract with Ramelli will stabilize solid waste collection in Service Area 1 for more than 3,000 households. Ramelli began work on Thursday, Sept. 16, with four trucks focused on removing curbside solid waste and bagged trash; additional trucks will be added as they become available.
For the Service Area 2 procurement, the contractor who responded to the emergency procurement has indicated they have 20 trucks; however, they do not have the labor needed to operate the trucks. It is anticipated that this respondent will be deemed non-responsive in the coming days.
"Solid waste collection was a challenge due largely to workforce issues nationwide that are affecting many sectors,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Infrastructure Ramsey Green. “This was an issue before the storm that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is an even greater issue now as we continue to move through our recovery with more than two times the amount of normal trash. This small number of responsive bidders underscores the monumental challenge that continues to impact our sanitation operations today.”
Operation Mardi Gras Clean Sweep – Service Area 2
Given the pervasive solid waste collection issues, the City initiated Operation Mardi Gras Clean Sweep in the Florida Neighborhood on Thursday, Sept. 16. This initiative calls for utilizing heavy equipment (dump trucks, front end loaders, etc.) and laborers to remove bags of trash from the 51 sub zones within Service Area 2. Crews consist of a front end loader, two to three dump trucks and laborers, as well as a New Orleans Police Department escort.
The City’s Mardi Gras clean-up contractors (MDL Enterprises and Ramelli Waste) will provide equipment and labor for five crews to assist in this effort. Additional agencies including the Department of Sanitation, Department of Public Works, Parks and Parkways, the Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, Orleans Parish Sherriff’s Office, the Regional Transit Authority, Louis Armstrong Airport and the levee authorities will participate in this operation beginning Friday, Sept. 17 with either equipment, labor or a combination of both.
Going forward, up to 10 crews will be operating daily, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and utilizing the River Birch Landfill. The City is exploring opening an additional transfer station for solid waste in New Orleans East to help expedite the process with a trash collection point within Service Area 2. More information will be released when/if negotiations are finalized.
An online dashboard will be available on www.ready.nola.gov to alert residents of progress in the coming days. Throughout Operation Mardi Gras Clean Sweep, City sanitation contractors will continue to dump the City-issued 95-gallon trash carts. IV Waste LLC began supporting Metro Services Group in Service Area 2 with seven trucks on Wednesday, Sept. 15; those resources will continue supporting Tuesday through Saturday routes for the foreseeable future. Recycling collection remains suspended indefinitely so that all resources can focus on solid waste collection.
“The men and women who work in the Department of Sanitation have faced this challenge head on and worked tirelessly each day," said Matt Torri, Director of Sanitation. “We are grateful for the many City departments and partner agencies who are leaning forward and lending their resources to help solve this problem.”
Emergency Debris Removal
The City’s emergency debris removal contract was in place prior to Hurricane Ida. Debris contractor Ceres began collections last week of an estimated 200,000 cubic yards (54,000 tons) of vegetative debris that will be picked up via three citywide passes. The debris collection monitoring map is now posted at CleanUp - NOLA Ready. To date, nearly 20,000 cubic yards (4,250 tons) has been retrieved.
Elysian Fields Transfer Station
In response to myriad requests about where residents can drop off solid waste, the City opened the Elysian Fields Transfer Station on Wednesday, Sept. 15 for residents to dispose of bagged household garbage. This service is being provided free of charge between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., seven days per week.
Residents may call 311 for questions regarding solid waste collection and debris removal.