Inland Waste: City knew about ‘service challenges’ in early April

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The company contracted to provide trash pickup services to Hickory Hill and Cordova says they alerted the city to the backlog problems in early April.

This week WREG received numerous complaints about trash not being picked up by Inland Waste, in some cases since January. We contacted the city who confirmed the company - who services the Hickory Hill area and Cordova- had fallen behind in recent weeks.

Officials said they gave Inland an initial deadline to get all of the trash cleaned up by Monday night, but they said contractors didn't meet that deadline. Several days later, city leaders said they were considering replacing Inland once their contract runs out in 2019.

"We've asked them to explain why they're not meeting services," Public Works Director Robert Knecht said. “We’re going to take necessary steps to hold them accountable through fines or take away some funds wed pay them because they didn’t do the service."

He said they are also looking into hiring an additional contractor to help out.

In a statement sent to WREG Wednesday evening, Inland said they take full responsibility of the issue, but noted they did notify the city about the problems on April 9 after experiencing what they called a "qualified professional driver shortage".

Inland Waste immediately took action, contacting Philip Davis, Deputy Solid Waste Director advising him of the situation. ... Our Memphis professionals continued to provide service updates throughout the week, completing all Cart service by Sunday afternoon, April 15, 2018.

Monday, April 16, 2018 at 10:15am a conference call was conducted with Deputy COO Patrice Thomas, Solid Waste Director Robert Knecht and Deputy Solid Waste Director Philip Davis. A full disclosure of service challenges and delays were outlined by Inland Waste Solutions to City Officials. A second conference call with the same attendee’s was held at 1:45pm Monday afternoon. Inland Waste Solutions outlined a written detailed operating plan that was submitted to Mayor Strickland for approval. The plan outlined the use of Rental Sanitation Trucks and a local vendor to assist with bulk and yard waste collection.

 Those additional crews arrived on Wednesday and began work immediately, the city told WREG that morning.

The article released on April 17, 2018 quoting Robert Knecht “We’ve ask them to explain why they’re not meeting service” is troubling. Inland Waste Solutions provided a written Operating Plan to Mr. Knecht and City Officials which was accepted on April 16, 2018 at 1:45pm. 

Update April 18, 2018; Inland Waste Solutions has taken delivery of three Rental Sanitation Trucks and is currently utilizing Michaels Tree Service for bulk and Yard Waste collection. Cordova is the priority area to clean up, per Mayor Strickland. Then we will move into the other Inland Waste service areas of Memphis sweeping the city as we move down each street. We are 100% focused on providing service to our residential customers in the City of Memphis. We apologize for the current situation and feel we are taking steps necessary to resolve the issue in an expeditious manner. The service commitment date of April 23, 2018 is still our goal. “We are working diligently every day to provide service to all Inland customers."

The company hopes to be caught up with the trash backlog by Monday, April 23.

Memphis currently pays Inland more than $4 million a year for service through 2019.

The company has faced complaints from Memphis residents since its contract began in 2014, and lost its contract to service Germantown in 2017.