Clayton County again considering mandatory trash pickup

Clayton County is considering municipal garbage pickup.

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Clayton County is considering municipal garbage pickup.

Despite vocal opposition from some residents, Clayton County leaders are forging ahead with a study on mandatory garbage pickup for the south metro Atlanta community.

Unlike the county’s cities, including Forest Park and Riverdale, trash in unincorporated Clayton is disposed of by independent garbage companies selected by residents.

County leaders argue Clayton needs municipal garbage pickup to clean up the community, protect citizens health and improve the area’s quality of life. The plan may also include recycling collection and pick up of large appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and washers and dryers.

The discussion comes as trash pickup has become an issue in metro Atlanta, with some residents in Gwinnett and Cobb counties recently experiencing weeks of delays in refuse removal because of worker related absences due to the highly transmissible omicron variant of COVID-19.

And it’s not the first time Clayton has broached the subject. Clayton leaders held meetings on garbage pickup in 2017, but later backed off those discussions.

Clayton Chief Operating Officer Detrick Stanford said the county is looking at the pricing of a municipal garbage service and whether it would be a benefit over what residents have now.

“We’re working through the process,” he said. “If the haulers are outside of the market for what citizens are paying now, I can see the board not moving forward.”

Opponents, however, worry that a municipal program would lead to higher costs for them, including administrative fees that they currently don’t have to pay.

Municipal pickup also hurts the small independent businesses, they say, and does not address the county’s biggest problems with trash, which is illegal dumping of mattresses, tires and other big items along Clayton roadways.

“It’s not cost effective,” said Clayton County resident Carol Yancey, who opposes the mandatory pickup. “It also is taking away our freedom of choice. I have five, six choices now. I won’t have that if we have mandatory pickup.”