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DPW drivers pick up record amount of trash in 2020

Indianapolis residents threw out more than 318,000 tons of trash last year, but DPW said customer complaints were down significantly.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
File photo of trash and recycling bins waiting for pick-up.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis residents threw out a record amount of trash last year, thanks in large part to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Public Works revealed Wednesday workers collected more than 318,000 tons of trash citywide in 2020, up nearly 11 percent from the year before. DPW solid waste drivers picked up just over 129,000 tons of that trash alone, up 10 percent from 2019. The department said Republic Services and Waste Management noted similar increases last year.

DPW said during Marion County's lockdown period, each resident put 45 pounds of trash out each week. That's a nine percent increase over 2019's numbers.

But the department did note that even with record-setting amounts of trash being collected, validated complaints were down five percent citywide and 30 percent on DPW's routes.

The work did not go unnoticed.

"We're very proud of Indy DPW's solid waste team," Indy DPW Director Dan Parker said in a release. "This year they picked up record numbers of waste, responded to a record number of service requests, and yet were able to do it more efficiently and with fewer customer issues. This was done all while dealing with the COVID-19 health crisis, and having to quickly adapt to new protocols to keep employees healthy."

DPW management has worked with union leadership since the spring on strategies to help protect drivers and other DPW employees from COVID-19. 

"Thanks to their commitment to go above and beyond the call of duty, Indianapolis residents continued to receive essential services amidst an unprecedented year," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

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