Letter to the editor: City owes residents explanation for continued halt of recycling collection


Thank you to Sumter City Councilmen Gifford Shaw (who is my councilman) and Calvin Hastie for voting against the proposed increase in the trash collection fee for city residents.

An increase, the first in nine years, means we would be paying more for fewer services, as recycling collection has still not resumed in the city after its most recent hiatus because of staffing shortages. Recycling collection was halted during the height of the pandemic for more than a year, resuming in April 2021, then stopped again in early January this year. The reasons given at the time were a worker shortage from illness, paid time off and unfilled jobs.

With many businesses now able to hire as more people are vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions are loosened, I feel the city owes the public an explanation for why recycling collection continues to be a problem here.

True, we don't pay specifically for recycling. But because the recycling truck is again not being used, meaning no gas costs and maintenance fees are being spent on it, and also employees' salaries if they haven't been shuffled around, wouldn't the city actually be saving money at the moment by not collecting recycling? If so, why the proposed increase in the "roll cart" trash collection fee? Recycling centers in the city are also not taking aluminum, glass or plastic items.

The city has been doing a good job recently in trying to clean our streets and waterways of litter through hiring new litter officers and implementing new programs and community cleanups, but we have heard nothing recently about resuming recycling collection. Let's not give people an excuse to throw recyclable items from their vehicles if they know they can't properly dispose of them at home anyway. This would add to a problem the city has been trying to lessen for years now in order to attract industry and new jobs.

To Mayor Merchant and city council, please push for recycling resumption.