Burlington County recycling operations impacted by shortage of truck drivers

The shortage has forced the Burlington County Department of Solid Waste to make changes to the recycling collection schedules in all towns.

A shortage of qualified and trained drivers has forced the Burlington County Department of Solid Waste to make changes to the recycling collection schedules in all towns.

Multiple recycling truck drivers left the Occupational Training Center of Burlington County – the nonprofit that collects and sorts the county’s recyclables — for other employment last month, leaving the agency severely shorthanded. Replacement drivers are being hired and trained, but officials anticipate that the County will remain shorthanded for recycling operations for several weeks.

The driver shortage has prompted numerous changes in the curbside recycling collection schedule for all towns.

Residents are strongly encouraged to download the free Recycle Coach app, which has the most up-to-date information about schedule changes for the 38 towns receiving curbside recycling collection service.  The Recycle Coach app can be downloaded from iTunes or the GooglePlay app stores. For residents without smart phones, a PC/Laptop version is available at www.co.burlington.nj.us/1602/Recycle-Coach. More than 30,000 county residents have downloaded the app.

Burlington County is not alone in experiencing problems from the driver shortage. Nationwide, the shortage of over-the-road drivers is at its highest level in 15 years, according to the Solid Waste Association of North America, which blames the shortages on an aging workforce, occupational hazards and increased demand from e-commerce.

“The increased competition for truck drivers has made retention difficult,” said Jerome Sheehan, director of the Burlington County Department of Solid Waste and Recycling. “We’ve taken steps to help OTC recruit replacements, but it takes some time to get everyone trained and familiar with the recycling vehicles. We’re asking residents to be patient and aware of the schedule changes as we try to work through the next several weeks.”

Residents are also encouraged to make use of the recycling drop-off sites located in their towns. A list of municipal locations is available here.

Burlington County collects recycling in all 40 municipalities and is one of the only counties in New Jersey to provide the service free-of-charge to homeowners and towns.

Last year, more than 39,600 tons of paper, cardboard, bottles and cans were collected and recycled from county residents.

OTC, which specializes in training and employing individuals with disabilities, has operated the County’s Recycling program since 1982.

Residents with questions about the recycling schedule can call the OTC recycling hotline, 609-267-2889, the County Recycling Office at 609-499-1001 or email recycle@co.burlington.nj.us.  Recycling makeup dates will also be posted schedule updates at www.burlcorecycles.com.