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Jackson Garbage-Pickup Mess Unresolved As Deadline Looms

Jackson leaders still have not decided on a vendor to handle trash-collection in Mississippi’s capital city just over two months before the City’s current emergency trash-collection agreement is set to end on March 31. Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said on Monday that officials are still reviewing garbage-collection requests-for-proposal submissions and have yet to make a recommendation.

“We’re committed to an honest process,” Lumumba said at a press conference on Monday. “We’re committed to a legal process, and we’re committed to a process that leads to our residents having the best possible price and reducing the burden on our residents. That’s what we care about.”

Since 2021, Jackson residents have witnessed a back-and-forth between the Jackson City Council and the mayor’s office over which company should be responsible for handling garbage-collection services and how involved the council should be in the RFP process. That back-and-forth resulted in three emergency garbage-collection contracts and a series of lawsuits over the matter, including a currently ongoing lawsuit with Richard’s Disposal.

Those disagreements came to a head last April after local leaders failed to find a middle ground and finalize a contract that resulted in an 18-day lapse in trash-pickup services in Mississippi’s capital city. For more than two weeks, trash piled up in front of homes and in the parking lots of businesses in Jackson. Some residents scrambled to find private hauling companies to collect their trash, while some community organizers stepped up to haul the trash to city-approved dump sites.

Richard’s Disposal workers gathered outside Jackson City Hall on March 30, 2023, after four members of the Jackson City Council did not show up to vote for the mayor’s recommendation of the company for a garbage-disposal contract. On April 1, 2023, the body voted down the proposed contract, leaving the city without a means to collect garbage. Photo by Kayode Crown 

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality sent out a letter addressed to the mayor and all city council members on April 7, 2023, threatening the City with $75,000 in daily fines for multiple Mississippi code violations during the garbage-pickup debacle.

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