The transition to Recology as the city’s new garbage, recycling and compost hauler is well underway. The new system of collections is still on track to begin on Oct. 1.
Interim city manager Jessi Bon gave an update at the Sept. 17 city council meeting, and an open house informational session will be held at 5 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.
All residents can attend the kid-friendly event to have questions answered about solid waste collection services, talk with Recology representatives, and see the trucks and equipment that will be used on Mercer Island. Light refreshments will be served.
The swapping out of 20,000 new curbside carts is nearing completion, and troubleshooting work will proceed over the next several weeks.
New color-coded carts are being delivered to residents and old Republic Services (the former solid waste contract holder) carts are simultaneously being collected. The new garbage carts are black, recycling carts are blue and compost carts are green. Not all of the new carts will be delivered at the same time, but should all be delivered by the end of the month.
More than 4,000 had been delivered as of Sept. 17, Bon said. But they’re not done yet.
“Delivery will continue throughout the month so if you’re hearing this and wondering where your carts are, they are on the way,” she said.
Not everyone’s old carts have been picked up yet, and old carts should be left out on the street on days of pickup until 5 p.m.
“One of the things that’s been happening is as soon as the garbage truck leaves and has emptied your containers, people are removing them or putting them back in too soon,” Bon said. “There’s a truck following behind and there’s quite a lag, and they will be by typically by 5 p.m. to take the old cans.”
Report carts that have not been picked up yet to Recology by calling the Mercer Island hotline at 206-381-6980.
“Some of us have been missed, and that was unfortunately to be expected. This is a big logistics switch. So if you feel that you’ve been missed, your old cans were not picked up, you just need to call Recology and let them know and they will ask you to put your carts back out on the street for pick up,” Bon said.
Republic will continue its service of the Island, collecting refuse from carts both old and new, through Sept. 30. Residents who now have new carts should fill only those. Recology’s contract will begin Oct. 1.
Some residents with collection day changes may receive two services during the week of transition. If someone’s regular pickup day would have been Monday, Sept. 30, but their collection day is switching to Fridays, for example, then they should have their carts out for pickup on both Sept. 30 and Oct. 4.
“So there’s still some logistics we are working through. Thank you for your patience,” Bon said.
People also can request service level changes at this time, such as wanting fewer compost bins going forward, for example, now that compost pickup will occur weekly instead of biweekly.
Customers can fill out a compost cart modification form online (https://bit.ly/2kFq3B4) to update their service or call the hotline.
Bon said Recology’s call center took 555 calls in one week and had received 433 service level change requests. They will continue to process the requests so residents can take time to evaluate their service needs.
For those who have commercial facilities or are living in multi-family structures such as apartments or condos, welcome packets have started to arrive this week.
The ongoing question of how many private roads on Mercer Island need review for service capabilities has been trimmed down to seven. All other private roads have been cleared for service.
“We are down to seven roads, and I understand that is probably where we will land,” Bon said. “These are facilities that may not be up to standards to hold or have the capacity for recology vehicles, even the smaller ones.”
Recology is working with those homeowners and property owners on private road liability waivers, which are still a work in progress as far as language, Bon said.
“I want to assure everyone that lives on a private road that there will not be a service interruption,” she said. “We will have collections as planned beginning Oct. 1 while we continue to work through this situation.”
As new collection begins, some 30 percent of households will have a new day of collection.
A map of collection days is available at the collection calendar on Recology’s website, www.recology.com.