Phoenix garbage woes: Bulk trash collection still backlogged as frustrations mount

The problem began in 2022, and in 2023, residents in parts of Phoenix are still plagued by a backlog in bulk trash collections.

In the meantime, frustrations are rising, even as some residents opt to find other solutions to their garbage woes.

Here's what you should know about the delays in bulk trash collection in Phoenix.

What's bulk trash?

According to the City of Phoenix's website, bulk trash are materials that are too large, and must not be placed in the garbage container or the recycling container.

"Materials such as furniture, appliances, toilets and large amounts of vegetation are often considered bulk trash," read a portion of the City of Phoenix website.

How often is bulk trash collected in Phoenix?

Phoenix city officials say bulk trash is collected from homes four times each year, with the following guidelines:


  • Follow the dates for bulk trash placement
  • Sweep or rake area after collection, if necessary
  • Securely bag and tie all grass, leaves, weeds, twigs and hedge clippings before placing out for bulk trash
  • Cut tree trimmings down to less than 12" in diameter and 4' in length​

​Don't Include:​

  • ​More than 20 cubic yards per residence which is similar to the size of a SUV
  • Loose debris and litter, and any ordinary household trash
  • ​Loose grass, leaves, weeds, twigs and hedge clippings
  • Household hazardous waste (HHW), such as antifreeze, pool chemicals, oil, batteries and paint
  • Community piles – avoid combining piles from multiple households. Bulk trash crews will only collect debris from one property at a time.​
  • Materials placed in the Bagster bags
  • Materials such as bricks, concrete, dirt, rocks, asphalt and roofing shingles/tiles
  • Construction or demolition materials in excess of 25 pounds or over four feet long
  • Metal or car parts in excess of 20 pounds or over four feet long
  • ​Tires, any shape or size
  • ​Glass such as windows, shower doors, patio doors, mirrors, fluorescent tubes, etc.
  • Tree trunks or stumps longer than 4 feet and bigger than 12 inches in diameter
  • Appliances that use refrigerants such as freezers, refrigerators and air conditioners. For appliance recycling options, visit ​the Appliance Recycling page.

What's causing the delays?

City officials say in Jan. 2023 that they are about 10 days behind on bulk trash, excluding Sundays.

"Thank you for your patience as we work to collect the city’s bulk trash," read a portion of the website.

Previously, city officials say staffing challenges are to blame for the delays.

"There’s a national shortage of CDL drivers, so Phoenix, unfortunately, is not immune to that national shortage," said City of Phoenix Public Works Director Joe Giudice. "Right now, we are at about 20% vacant. About 60 positions."

The topic of bulk trash pickup delays was also featured during a city council subcommittee meeting in late 2022.

"What I'm hearing from the drivers is, ‘look. Other cities are paying more. I have less routes, less stress, and I can have a quality of life with my family,'" said Councilmember Laura Pastor. "'What's happening in Phoenix is not only am I doing my regular hours, I'm also being told I'm going to do overtime.' So we're burning people out."

How are residents handling the delays?

At first, some residents showed patience.

"I understood by something we got in the mail that there would be a delay in the pickup," said Peter Delannoy.

"It's not that bothersome right now because it gives us a little extra time to put trash out, and it's a little cooler and less humid out right now," said Francis Kremer.

"A week would be too much. If it's a couple of days late, it's not a problem," said Michael Jordan.

"There’s a lot of things to be worried about in our world right now, and having a delay on picking up the stuff out in front of the yard is not a concern really," said Delannoy.

As time wore on, some residents are venting their frustration, as bulk trash piles up in some neighborhoods.

"I think it’s a hot mess," said Katt McKinney, who lives near 51st Avenue and Baseline Road. "It’s crazy out here. You can’t even park sometimes because some people’s trash is in the yard now or in the street now, and you have to drive around it."

Cliff Amancio, like his neighbors, put their trash out on Jan. 7, 2023 for pickup on Jan. 16.

10 days later, the bulk trash is still there, and with recent storms, Amancio said things got soggy, and dumpster divers are going from house to house,e picking through the items and spreading it around the streets.

 "If something falls over, people go through it, pick through it, and they’ll pick something up in the middle somewhere, and they’ll throw everything else and leave it there," said Amancio. "It makes a mess, and the HOA will get on me because it’s everywhere."

What are residents doing to get the trash out?

Some residents have hired people to haul the bulk trash out.

"We’ve been getting a lot of calls from customers afraid that the city of Phoenix isn’t picking up their bulk trash, and it’s been sitting in front of their house for like 3 to 4 weeks," said Chris Bodesten, in 2022. "It’s starting to stink in some places or rodents are starting to get in, and they’re just over it, so they’ve hired us to go in there and pick it up."

What is the city doing to solve the problem?

Amid mounting delays, city officials have placed green dumpsters in some neighborhoods.

"It's been quite the relief," said Jeff Tison, who lives in an area where a green dumpster was placed as a temporary fix.

Technically, the dumpster is called a 40-yard rolloff bin. Workers with the City of Phoenix Public Works drops it off empty, and picks it up when it's full.

Tisot says neighbors have been overwhelmingly positive about what this call ‘do-it-yourself’ bulk trash, and there have very few complaints.

"It sure beats having to haul it up to the dump yourself and pay for it," said Tisot.

Meanwhile, city officials are trying to hire more solid waste equipment operators. 

2023 City of Phoenix Bulk Trash Pickup Schedule

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