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NEW: Abrupt Haulin’ Trash closure sends county residents scrambling for new collector

A man walks by trash bins next to the curb (via Trinity Nguyen on Unsplash)

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) The service and staffing challenges plaguing trash collectors throughout Fairfax County have prompted one company to call it quits, leaving thousands of residents in limbo with little notice.

Haulin’ Trash LLC has permanently shuttered, informing customers by email Wednesday (Nov. 30) that it will cease operations effective yesterday.

“We have faced many challenges over the past several weeks that we simply cannot overcome. This decision has not only affected our customers but it has affected dozens of employees and their families,” owner Bobby Frazier said in the message, apologizing for the resulting inconvenience.

Frazier said that the “keys to the business” will transferred to a court-appointed trustee “over the next couple of weeks,” who will be in charge of giving out credits or refunds.

Started in 2017, the Leesburg-based company served around 3,000 customers in the county, including homeowners’ associations and 1,800 single-household customers, the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) says.

The county has over a dozen private, licensed haulers that serve about 90% of residents and businesses. The rest get waste collection services from the county government.

DPWES says its Solid Waste Management Program contacted Haulin’ Trash on Tuesday (Nov. 29) after receiving “a surge in resident complaints about missed collections.” The company told staff that it was “experiencing operational and financial difficulties,” but said it was looking at options to address the reported concerns, according to the county.

A day later, though, Haulin’ Trash notified the county that it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and would close on Dec. 1. An email sent to customers on Nov. 30 said plans to “catch up” on missed collections proved impossible because it had only four trucks — half its fleet – available.

Shared with FFXnow today, the email has a timestamp of 4:29 p.m. The announcement that Haulin’ was permanently closing went out at 9:39 p.m. that same day. The company didn’t return a request for comment.

While sudden, the closure doesn’t appear to be a total surprise to Haulin’ customers. One told FFXnow that the company’s service “had degraded to almost nothing this month,” while an Oakton resident said it missed three consecutive pickups in their neighborhood in November.

“The delayed/missed pickups have caused trash/recycle bin(s) and yard waste bag(s) sit on the curbside/street for weeks,” the resident wrote in an anonymous tip. “As a result, the neighbor looks disorganized with unpleasant smell, trashes littering on street, in storm drainage, on lawn(s).”

Reston resident Jalal Mapar said he has already switched to a different company, but he found that his new hauler has doubled its rates from what it was charging in January.

“It’s frustrating to say the least,” Mapar said. “I pay state tax, real estate tax, car tax, toll fees, park tax, Reston Association fees…and pay for trash pick up too; yet Fairfax County is not doing anything to help the residents with this essential service.”

DPWES advises residents to refer to its list of permitted waste collectors, or contact their HOA representative or property manager “for further information regarding obtaining a new service provider.”

Anyone seeking help in getting reimbursed for lost service can contact the county’s Consumer Affairs Branch at (703) 222-8435. Service and compliance complaints can be filed online.

The closure of Haulin’ Trash is the latest chapter in a saga of trash troubles that have bedeviled Fairfax County during the pandemic, fueled in part by a nationwide worker shortage — or exodus.

DPWES identified American Disposal Services as the top culprit earlier this year, signing a consent agreement on Oct. 4 that requires the company to improve service levels by boosting hiring, retention and pay.

The Board of Supervisors is exploring alternate models for waste management, such as franchising, which would create exclusive service zones and let the county set rates for customers. However, state law currently imposes requirements that make franchising unfeasible, according to county staff.

“Localities should be granted additional authority to manage solid waste collection and onerous requirements should be removed from state law, in order to address community needs comprehensively and in a timely manner, ensuring good public sanitation, protecting the environment, and enhancing quality of life,” the county’s draft 2023 legislative program says.

Photo via Trinity Nguyen on Unsplash

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