Countywide

Haulin’ Trash bankruptcy leaves many county residents out of luck getting refunds

Emptied trash and recycling bins by the street (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Troubled trash company Haulin’ Trash has closed its bankruptcy case, leaving thousands of Fairfax County residents unable to get refunds for missed or delayed services.

Back in December, the trash collecting company Haulin’ Trash permanently shuttered after missing a series of collections due to staff shortages and “financial difficulties.” The company had operated in the county for about a year and served approximately 3,000 customers.

To help those residents, Fairfax County temporarily waived landfill disposal fees for former Haulin’ Trash customers.

Fairfax County received more than 300 complaints about the company during its one year of operation, including 147 to the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) and 188 to the Department of Cable and Consumer Services (DCCS), per officials.

In March, the company officially filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The case was closed early last month, with the company not having enough funds to provide refunds or credits to customers.

“On April 5, 2023, the bankruptcy trustee issued a report of No Distribution-No Funds, and the case was closed on April 6, 2023. No credits or refunds will be issued to affected residents/customers,” DPWES spokesperson Sharon North wrote FFXnow. “To date, Haulin’ Trash has not been responsive to the consumer complaints sent from the County. Because the bankruptcy case is now closed, Fairfax County Consumer Affairs is unable to mediate further.”

DPWES does have a list on its website of other providers for impacted residents.

Haulin’ Trash’s demise came as the county grappled with trash troubles that date back to at least 2019 but worsened during the pandemic. About 90% of residents and businesses are served by private collection companies like Haulin’ Trash.

Complaints against American Disposal Services led to the county asking the Virginia General Assembly for more authority to rework its solid waste management model.

Last fall, DWPES had American Disposal enter into a consent agreement that asked the company to hire more drivers and customer service personnel, increase salaries, and credit customers for missed pick-ups. It also imposed a $5,000 fine on the company.

Since that time, customer complaints against American Disposal have significantly decreased, the county says.

“American Disposal Service has met the requirements of the 2022 Consent Agreement,” North wrote. “Complaints for haulers which operate in Fairfax County are currently at satisfactory levels.”

Only four complaints have been made to DCCS about American Disposal since the beginning of the year, per a spokesperson from the agency.

Despite short-term service problems appearing to be resolved, the county is still looking to make big changes to its solid waste management model.

“DPWES staff are in the process of scoping a major revision to our solid waste management plan to meet state and board directives,” North said. “During this time we will look at alternative options for waste management.”