Take out the papers and the trash
Hendricks County waste and recycling contractors and facilities face increased demand, challenges
By Stephanie Dolan
Since the onset of the coronavirus, people have stayed home more than usual. Sheltering in place has become a mantra while Hendricks County residents work from home, stay at home or unfortunately have not been able or allowed to work temporarily or permanently due to the pandemic.
As is happening everywhere else, many people who are quarantining or just simply hunkering down have taken to household projects, everything from deep spring cleaning to household renovations.
This creates trash — a lot of it. That extra volume has left trash collectors with job security and a lot of heavy lifting and hopefully a greater appreciation from those whose waste they collect.
Since 1965 Clayton-based Ray’s Trash Service has served Hendricks County residents.
“Obviously, since the beginning of March, since the shutdown first began, there was a lot of uncertainty on what we could pick up and what was safe for our drivers,” said Donald Matthews, owner of Ray’s Trash. “We were part of the essential workers. We had to pick up trash, but if it wasn’t bagged, they weren’t allowed to pick it up. Or if it’s not in the dumpster, don’t grab it and throw it in.”
Ray’s has provided their trash workers with gloves and other PPE for use while they’re on the clock. Safety has been paramount, and Matthews said that his workers have been doing well while facing challenges.
“With customers being home and the amount of volume we were collecting, that rose 20 to 25% for daily pickups,” he said. “Our drivers didn’t flinch though. They just came in and did their jobs.”
On the flip side, Matthews said that industrial trash collection has dropped significantly, with the exception of FedEx because more people are online ordering things, he said.
“That’s a lot of our volume increase in residential, more packaging,” he said. “When they started getting stimulus money, people started buying things they couldn’t normally afford, televisions and furniture, things like that. It’s been a tremendous amount of waste.”
To accommodate, Ray’s has several landfills at their disposal along with an incinerator, he said.
“We’ve had to hire people for the extra amount of trash,” Matthews said. “We have a mentor program, and we train people to be CDL drivers. The volume of trash that we pick up is a lot.”
The most difficult thing right now continues to be keeping up with the amount of residential trash at the curb each day for pick up, and residents need to follow trash pickup protocols.
“There are limits to what we’ll take,” he said. “People can call in and arrange to have special things picked up. All of our heavy trash pickup is scheduled privately, but some municipalities like Plainfield and Avon have heavy trash clean up days.”
Amid the housing projects, Matthews is adamant that Hendricks County residents must stop leaving out construction material for trash collectors.
“A lot of people are renovating their houses right now,” he said. “Concrete is not trash. It’s a construction material, and it is not compatible with our truck mechanisms. Wood waste has got to be cut down to three feet in length, and you can’t just put out what’s left of the whole patio at once.”
Do-it-yourselfers may disposed of heavy items at the drop-off location at Ray’s Resource Recovery And Transfer 3830 E. U.S. 40, Clayton.
Ray’s picks up recycling, and nearly 330 tons of recycling products are processed daily at the processing plant.
“We all have an environmental responsibility, and recycling is something that we could do a better job of,” he said. “We pick up way too much material that is recyclable as trash.”
The Hendricks County Solid Waste Management District also helps the citizens of Hendricks County with recycling, but executive director Lenn Detwiler said that the drop off centers are truly meant for residents who can’t get access to recycling pickup.
“If you live in a populated part of Hendricks County like Brownsburg, Avon, Danville, Plainfield or Pittsboro, then curbside recycling is available to you where you live. Our recycling drop off centers are really to give people in western part of Hendricks County access to recycling resources where curbside is not available as an option.”
For less than $10 a month, Ray’s or Republic Services can pick up residential recycling while easing the burden on the district’s recycling centers.
“Before you start the process of cleaning out, figure out what your options are going to be to get rid of things,” Detwiler said. “Call us. We’re happy to help with those kinds of questions. A lot of times we can send people to options other than us that are better suited for what they’ve got.”
The district’s recycling drop off sites are for only that: recyclable materials such as paper, cans and bottles.
“We have had some significant challenges at our Lizton recycling center with the bin getting overfilled over the weekends, and people are leaving things at the site that ought not be there,”
Detwiler said. “Whether it’s tires or old toilets or old gas cans, mattresses, old closet doors — things that definitely don’t belong at a recycling center for bottles and cans and papers. But there’s also just more materials coming in, and people will leave it on the ground if the bin is full instead of taking it back home with them. That is a battle right now.”
This is an unprecedented time for garbage collection of all kinds, Matthews said.
“We’ve never as a company gone through anything close to this, but the drivers have accepted this responsibility, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and gone on to do their jobs,” he said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am. They just do a fantastic job, and our customer base really appreciates the service that we give. We appreciate our customers. We also have an excellent office staff who fields an average of 1,200 calls a day.”
“We’ve never as a company gone through anything close to this, but the drivers have accepted this responsibility, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and gone on to do their jobs.” Donald Matthews, owner of Ray’s Trash
Trash and recycling
For more information about trash and recycling collection and drop off in Hendricks County, consider these resources:
Ray’s Trash Service
Residential services: Trash and recycling collection, heavy trash and recycling drop off
Phone: (317) 539-2024 or (800) 531-6752
Hendricks County Solid Waste Management District
Services: Recycling drop off centers, Tox-Away Days, Yard Waste Recycling Centers
Phone: (317) 858-6070
Residential services: Trash and recycling collection Upon request for customers yard waste removal, heavy trash pickup and dumpster rental
Phone: (317) 917-7300