After initial complaints from residents about reduced trash and recycling center hours, Beaufort County leaders say the new schedules are working well.
Traffic studies at seven of the 11 locations show visitors have adjusted their habits, and despite some early morning back-ups, traffic has dispersed across the new schedule, county solid waste director Jim Minor said Monday.
"Our complaint level has basically disappeared. ... Most people have adapted," Minor said. "We're actually prolonging our capability to keep up these centers in spite of the traffic levels, by making people change their routine a little bit."
The new schedule, which began in October, has cut operations at most centers by two hours and closed all locations on Wednesdays.
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Those abbreviated hours have cut out time before 9 a.m. each day that residents could drop off their trash, mostly on the way to work, Minor said. That forced many residents to change their habits, and it's led to a surge of people going to the centers right when they open each Thursday, he added. Those surges clogged the centers at first, but as residents' habits changed, so have the Thursday morning rush hours, Minor said. The day off each Wednesday also allows more time for maintenance that the facilities wouldn't otherwise have, he said.
The county also has buttoned down a new long-term contract through the end of 2024 for its trash and recycling pickup with Waste Management.
Waste Management hauls trash from the county's collection centers to the Hickory Hill landfill in Jasper County and charges by the ton for waste delivered to the dump.
Under the new contract, the price will drop almost $4 per ton, saving the county about $200,000, Minor said. County Council unanimously approved the contract last week.