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Communities Nationwide Experience Solid Waste Collections Delays

Jan 20, 2022


The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent jump in cases due to the Omicron variant are having major impacts on the waste industry. Issues range from employee callouts from sickness or exposure to COVID, a scarcity of CDL drivers, vehicle parts and equipment delays, and general staffing shortages that have affected nearly every industry.

According to an article by Waste Dive, some sanitation departments are reporting up to a 25% absentee rate. These impacts are interrupting important services and causing delays in curbside collections around the nation.

What’s Happening Locally

Here at ACUA, we continue to be challenged by the lingering effects of COVID. Most recently, our staffing levels have been down 20 to 25%, which has forced us to delay some collections in the communities we serve.  

As we encounter these issues, we are required to make tough decisions to prioritize collections based on the staff available. We must assign crews to complete routes in this order: trash, recycling, then yard waste. Trash is the number one priority to collect because it is the most harmful to public health and the environment if left for too long. Yard waste, while a nuisance, is the lowest priority because natural materials are the least harmful if left on the curb.

What We are Doing to Alleviate the Issues


Our Collections Team works well into the evening hours to complete as many routes as possible each day. The hard work of these employees, enlisting additional help from other ACUA departments, and partnerships with our communities have helped to keep these essential collections going.

Our Human Resources Team is working around the clock to bring new employees on board. We have increased pay for both CDL drivers and laborers and have held numerous Job Fairs to attract new talent. A new partnership with a CDL Training School will begin this month onsite to train current employees in the credentials needed to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This pilot program will make it more convenient for employees to obtain their CDL and will increase the drivers available.

We will continue to strive to reduce delays in collections and work with our partner communities to come up with solutions that can help better serve our customers during this tumultuous period. We appreciate everyone’s continued patience as we work to resolve this matter and return our service to the levels you expect from us.

We invite our community to visit our website for updated collection notices ( or sign up for our reminder system to be alerted of delays (

If your items were missed or delayed, we ask if you can please leave materials at the curb and our collections team will return to retrieve them as soon as possible.


Further Reading:

Omicron spread disrupts US waste and recycling operations as 2022 begins

Garbage and recyclables pile up as omicron takes its toll

More yard waste piles, more workers out sick: How Omicron is whacking Louisville services

More Information About Careers at ACUA


Being hired by the ACUA is more than just a job, it’s a career. Laborers in our Collections Team are encouraged to attain their CDL license and become a Driver when the position is available. Many employees move up within the organization to a variety of departments including Administration, Centralized Maintenance, and our Wastewater Division.

ACUA employees receive competitive health benefits and have access to retirement programs. Benefits are available to all employees upon full-time hire. ACUA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. If you or someone you know is interested in a career with ACUA, visit our careers page to view our open positions and learn more.