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Indianapolis DPW asks for patience amid worker shortage causing trash pick-up problems

Full DPW trashcan
Posted at 11:27 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 23:27:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Every week, WRTV receives messages about missed trash pickup service. Sometimes it has been days, other times it has been weeks; their frustrations are all the same.

Olivia Brubaker, who lives in Lockerbie Square, says her neighborhood went around three weeks without service.

"There are so many trash pickups that have been missed that people are filing for their whole block. My trash has been missed. It has been two weeks, three weeks," Brubaker said. "It's just a frustrating cycle. We've learned a lot as a community to keep trying and keep pursuing it."

Brubaker credits her neighbors for their persistence, calling the Mayor's Action Center & the Department of Public Works, to finally get their trash picked up.

On the City of Indianapolis' revamped service request site, you can see all the filings for missed trash pickups.

Brubaker said she and her neighbors are understanding but want assurances this will not continue to be an ongoing problem.

"Somebody has to be held accountable. They have to give us another way to dispose of our trash," Brubaker said. "They did tell us we could take our trash to Citizen's Transfer Center for $2 a car load. Personally, I don't want to put that trash that's been sitting out in the hot summer sun in my car to then take somewhere, then pay to get it dumped when I'm already paying for a service."

Indianapolis DPW's spokesperson, Ben Easley, sent the following statement in regards to the ongoing trash pickup problems.

On any given day, Indy DPW is down about 20 people on average in terms of vacancies or employees needing to call off. To be clear, even this shortage sees us able to cover all of our routes. However, if any additional workers need to take time off for sickness, FMLA, vacation, or doctor – approved light duty, we are susceptible to segmenting or suspending portions of certain routes in our service areas.

That said, the best practice for residents with missed trash is to leave their cart at the curb and call the mayors action center on the next day to report the miss. This is not to say that we don’t know which routes were missed, but this helps us track service requests. Often, our crews will plan to collect suspended route segments on the following day or even the following Saturday, calling in workers for an extra day.

We are ramping up an extensive recruitment campaign currently – folks will likely see digital ads, bus tails, and even billboards in the coming weeks and months. Our jobs generally start at upwards of $21 per hour. And Mayor Hogsett’s proposed budget for 2023 includes funding for CDL certification in-house, thus eliminating that barrier as a hiring prerequisite. An interested applicants can always go to to see all open positions.

We ask for patience from residents as we work to stabilize this shortage. Certainly we appreciate the women and men of the Indy DPW solid waste division who are now pulling lengthier and extra shifts to work on making up the difference.