Waste Management is recruiting new drivers to meet a shortage on routes in Port Orchard and South Kitsap, the company said Tuesday. (Courtesy photo)

Waste Management is recruiting new drivers to meet a shortage on routes in Port Orchard and South Kitsap, the company said Tuesday. (Courtesy photo)

Recycling bin filled to the brim?

Blame it on a driver shortage, Waste Management says

PORT ORCHARD — Recycling bins parked along neighborhood streets in Port Orchard — some brimmed to the top with refuse — have become a common sight for residents over the past two weeks.

As has been the case in the Bremerton area, they remain curbside awaiting servicing by Waste Management trucks because of a shortage of drivers, according to the waste collection company.

Waste Management spokesman Gary Chittim said his company is conducting an “aggressive driver recruitment and hiring campaign” to mitigate the issue.

“We held two hiring events in Bremerton that attracted several applicants and we’re offering $2,000 signing bonuses,” Chittim said. “Our efforts are paying off. We are currently training four new drivers on the routes. We expect them to be fully trained and ready to go soon.”

The company has had representatives at job fairs at local military installations and is “working closely with local driver training schools.”

The spokesman said customers inside Port Orchard can visit wmnorthwest.com/portorchard to learn of service updates. Those in unincorporated areas can go to wmnorthwest.com/kitsap.

“We’re offering great wages and benefits, including the newest benefit: a college tuition program that provides eligible WM employees the opportunity to earn a college degree, at no cost to the employee.”

Kitsap County’s Solid Waste Division, however, stated in an email that it is closely monitoring the waste collection situation. The county’s commissioners have been in communication with both the company and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which regulates the service, officials said.

In the statement, division leaders said: “Unfortunately, Kitsap County does not have regulatory authority over waste collection in the county and does not have a contractual relationship with WM for these services.” But county officials acknowledged that WM has made some progress in hiring and training new drivers.

Officials said residents who are unable to store recyclables until the situation is rectified can take them to a county waste facility at no charge.

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