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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Smashed, bashed, and trashed | Garbage trucks are blamed for destroying waste & recycling bins

Morning Woods homeowners turned to the Local I-Team to find out why there are so many broken trash and recycling bins in their neighborhood.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Lately, neighbors in the Morning Woods subdivision are raising a stink. 

Larry Reed said he knows the garbage and recycling bins are supposed to take a beating, but he never expected the Waste Pro garbage truck to be the cause of the problem.  

"The truck was in motion while the can was in motion," said Reed, recounting what he saw on his outdoor security camera. 

Reed said the City of Memphis told him this is a safety issue.

Local 24 saw many examples of trashed, bashed, and smashed lids around his neighborhood. 

Reed also said it has left many of his neighbors frustrated. 

Dozens of Reed's neighbors left comments on a Facebook group questioning why there were so many broken bins and lids. 

Credit: Larry Reed

Larry's neighbor, Molly, questioned: does this look good to anyone? 

Another neighbor, Rodney, posted that he actually had to go to the main office with video to file a complaint. 

Another neighbor, Julie, called it crazy. She wondered how much all this damage is costing taxpayers.

That's why Reed turned to the Local I-Team for answers. 

The Local I-Team learned the average cost for a bin is $46. 

The Solid Waste Division has replaced more than $1,000,000 worth of damaged bins since 2019, based on the more than 25,000 reported to the city's 3-1-1 line. 

The top reasons for the replacements were for cracked lids or broken bins, missing wheels, and lids that fell into or were destroyed by the garbage truck. 

Credit: Larry Reed

"It really wasn't until we saw the security cam video that we realize how frightening it was," said Reed. 

Arlenia Cole with the City of Memphis sent Local 24 News a statement. 

"Waste Pro trucks are equipped with automated side loads (mechanical arms) operated by the driver. The driver experienced a calibration issue with the automated arms during the collection route. The equipment was taken out of service for inspection and repair."

"It was just scary to see," said Reed. 

Reed's neighbor, Dedrick Woods, said his trash bin is missing a lid. He believes it creates an environment that could possibly attracting vermin.

Woods said it happens in the Morning Woods subdivision all the time.

"I see it one day. Two weeks later, I see the same thing," said Woods. 

Local 24 News looked into Wood's remarks to see if happens often in his neighborhood. 

The Local I-Team analyzed data from January 2019 to December 2020.

Since 2019, 38016, which includes the Morning Woods subdivision, reported more damaged bins to the city's 3-1-1 line than any other zip code.

Credit: John Paul/Local 24 News

Local 24 news looked at more than 25,000 reports from 2019 and 2020.

The 38016 zip code had nearly 2,200 reports.

38109 followed, showing about 1,800 reports.

38119, 38018, 38111, 38117, 3811,5 38141, 38127, and 38118 rounded out the top 10.

All together those zip codes account for nearly 60% of the damaged bins reported since 2019.

So who's paying for all the damage? Technically you are.

The replacements are covered by the $29.96 monthly fee that homeowners pay on their MLGW bill, according to Cole. 

With 174,000 households customers, it's estimated the Solid Waste division receives more than $5,000,000 monthly.

Replacement bins account for a small share of it. 

Credit: Larry Reed
Larry Reed sent this picture to Local 24 News to show all of the damaged garbage bins throughout his neighborhood.

Cole told Local 24 News Waste Pro reimburses the city for each bin it destroys.

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Local 24 News filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents to show that. We also asked to inspect garbage truck maintenance records.

The city has several days to respond to our request.