Waste Management Removes Fines for Exceeding Destin Waste Contract

DESTIN — Issues raised at a recent city council meeting convinced Waste Management to scrap its plan to fine Destin residents for overfilling their trash cans or contaminating their recyclables.

Using advanced truck technology and involving the city’s code compliance team, the sanitation company determined it could solve the problems it faced in Destin without relying on threats to good customers.

The problem to solve:Debate at Destin council meeting: Are fines for ‘excess’ and ‘contamination’ of waste fair?

A memo from Officer Doug Rainer of Waste Management Public Sector Solutions said language dealing with overage and contamination fees would be removed from a contract the company is negotiating for renewal with the city.

“We believe we can remove the proposed wording and continue to work toward our goal of reducing contamination and surpluses,” Rainer said in a letter to the city.

The plan to charge overage and contamination fees was the subject of a long debate at a July 11 city council meeting. The board eventually voted to allow the fines – $5 per incident for exceeding and $10 for contamination of recycling bins – but decided it wanted to review the success of the program two years after the five-year contract being negotiated. .

The fines would only have been imposed after two warnings to offending owners.

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The aspect of the addition to the contract that some meeting attendees did not like was that residents would be subject to fines for littering problems caused primarily by visitors vacationing in short-term rental homes.

Waste Management is “nickel and dimming customers as they are, and now they’re charging extra for contamination and overage,” Councilman Kevin Schmidt said.

Overuse and contamination issues only occur in about 8% of households in Destin, and the vast majority of those are in short-term rental properties, Waste Management representative Jake told the council. Alderfer.

“I would imagine most are in homes used as short-term vacation rentals because they don’t have the right amount of cans,” Alderfer said.

Resident Marcie Bell pointed out at the meeting that the city’s short-term rental ordinance, negotiated in 2018, set out specific requirements for landlords of rental properties regarding the number of trash cans they must provide.

Waste Management backed out of its plan to fine Destin residents for overfilling their trash cans or contaminating their recyclables.

The ordinance states: “The owner will be required to obtain additional garbage containers and acquire special valet service from the city’s solid waste removal provider to ensure that all garbage is properly disposed of. confined and removed.”

One trash can is needed for the first three bedrooms of a short-term rental home and one trash can for two bedrooms thereafter. It also requires short-term rental providers to “acquire special valet service from the city’s solid waste removal provider to ensure all trash is properly contained and disposed of.”

Rainer quoted part of the order in his memo to the city.

“The language of the city’s short-term rental ordinance provides the tools to get the right level of service when overages are an issue,” Rainer said. “Our smart truck technology can be used to identify these issues and WM staff can work directly with city code compliance personnel to resolve these situations as they arise.”

Rainer had explained at the board meeting that Waste Management’s smart trucks are equipped with three cameras that can pinpoint where overuse and contamination issues are occurring.

This technology can also be used effectively to crack down on residents or visitors who contaminate recycling bins by using them to throw trash in or placing non-recyclable items in them, Rainer said.

“The smart truck provides us with a real-time (and reviewable) view of the contents dumped in our trucks. In the event that we find that contamination needs to be addressed in a particular residence, we can communicate directly with the resident whose can is contaminated and educate them about what should/shouldn’t be included in their recycling bins,” Rainer said in his memo to the city. “We believe this approach can be effective.”

Rainer also suggested that Waste Management work with city staff on an education campaign regarding the contamination.

The new contract could be officially adopted after a second reading at the board meeting on August 1.

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