Letter: Surely we can find better trash solutions

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Your recent article about the upcoming changes for Waste Pro services did little to address the unique needs of some neighborhoods in our county [“County Clarifies Waste Pro Service Changes,” Sept. 25, Xpress]. I live in North Asheville, where bears are present almost daily. We have found that securing our bins with straps provides a very helpful deterrent, and with the new services, these straps are no longer allowed.

I have contacted Waste Pro, and I have yet to hear from anyone whose experience was consistent with Waste Pro’s slogan, “Caring for Our Communities.” Responses from the company have been inconsistent and unsympathetic to our unique needs. While Waste Pro Regional Vice President Chip Gingles indicated that Waste Pro was working with county staff to develop solutions for residents with special circumstances, we have yet to hear any interest in finding a workable solution for us.

The only alternatives we’ve been given so far were to buy a bearproof can from Waste Pro for $300 or take trash ourselves to collection stations. Neither option takes into account that some have already purchased their own bearproof cans at considerable cost, and the company told me they won’t guarantee the effectiveness of these expensive cans.

From an environmental standpoint, all the old bins already in use will end up adding to the landfill, and we will be using more vehicles and more fuel if we take the trash to collection points ourselves. In addition, because the garbage pickup time is unpredictable, garbage sits in bins for long periods of time, increasing the likelihood a bear will go through the trash, and trash will end up in places where it is often very hilly and dangerous to retrieve.

I participated in the Waste Pro customer survey to share these issues. I know many of my neighbors have called to share similar concerns. It doesn’t appear any of us are being heard. Surely there is a way to find solutions while still adding efficiencies to the overall services.

— Patty Gaumond

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Waste Pro with a summary of the letter writer’s points, and received the following response from Chip Gingles, regional vice president, North Carolina, who said in part: “We do not set policy or service requirements; we work hand-in-hand with county staff to implement the scope of services required in our contract. The county deserves credit for studying waste service best practices nationwide, surveying the community (this was a county survey, not a Waste Pro survey) and creating a plan. … While we appreciate the creativity of residents here in Buncombe County in securing these carts, straps will not work with our automated equipment. … Bearproof trash cans or self-disposal at county facilities are the best options for residents with concerns about bears. … I am working with the county staff to accommodate the elderly and residents with medical issues. Back Door Service was part of the last contract and remains part of the new contract. … We have utilized many communication tools to explain the program, including the internet, mail, adding call centers and directing residents to locations where they can see the cart sizes in person. We were honored to win the new contract and will always listen to the community.”



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2 thoughts on “Letter: Surely we can find better trash solutions

  1. Karen Smith

    Sounds like people with issues will have to go to county staff if Waste Pro is providing the services as defined in the contract. I don’t imagine the county staff will be anymore responsive though.

    • Curious

      If county staff is not responsive, shouldn’t voters speak to their elected county representatives?

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