InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


Baltimore bulk appliance pick-ups delayed; 100+ requests from 2023 still open

Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-31 19:22:07-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City residents are having to wait months for certain bulk trash pick-ups. Depending on where you live, the first available date may not be until August.

Jane Boyle contacted WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii about these delays.

“I wanted to get rid of a TV and microwave. I went to the Baltimore 3-1-1 website, I put in my request, and the first date that came up was August,” said Boyle who submitted her request on March 7 and lives in Northeast Baltimore.

According to the city’s website, these bulk appliance pick-ups only happen on Saturdays, but Boyle felt this was a bit excessive.

“I thought maybe I would wait for a month or so, but now, I mean like, who wants to hang on to their stuff for five months?” asked Boyle.

There’s no information on the city’s website indicating how long these pick-ups usually take, so WMAR-2 News analyzed 3-1-1 request data.

Last year, it took on average 95 days to close out nearly 2,300 “Appliance Saturday White Goods” requests, however, some remain open. Sofastaii knocked on those residents' doors and asked how long they’ve been waiting.

“I made the request, it was probably back in, I mean, it's been so long ago, but I think it was in early October,” said Dr. Sika Koudou.

Koudou’s fridge stopped working, so she filed a bulk appliance pick-up request on October 11, 2023.

“And they gave me, I believe what was the earliest date available, and that was April,” Koudou said.

Her service request is scheduled for pick up on April 13, a wait time of 185 days. And there are 49 other requests from October and November with the same due date.

In total, 148 requests remain open from last year with residents waiting on average 153 days for open requests.

WMAR-2 News contacted the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. In an email, Jennifer Combs, the public relations coordinator for DPW, wrote:

“There are no overdue service requests for scheduled bulk trash collections. The department has been picking up bulk trash requests as scheduled. … DPW’s review of open service requests for bulk collection service does not indicate any collections scheduled for the month of August.”

Sofastaii sent DPW Boyle’s service request number with a pick-up date in August.

In response, Combs wrote:

“DPW is taking a closer look at the August collection dates for white goods or appliance collections and at its current bulk-item scheduling process in coordination with 311. Collections for white goods take place on Saturdays, when DPW can service up to 50 requests according to its quadrant-based collection schedule. These collection slots tend to fill up quickly.

The address that you shared for the service request with an August 10 collection date receives white goods collection on the second Saturday of each month, and at this time, the white goods schedule for this quadrant is at capacity each week through August 10.”

“I’m trying to be understanding, but, you know, five months is a little much,” said Boyle.

Koudou also lives in Northeast Baltimore, the same quadrant as Boyle.

“What would be reasonable in your mind?” Sofastaii asked Koudou.
“I guess, you know, I guess maybe a month,” Koudou replied.

Koudou decided not to wait for her April pick-up date. When her basement flooded, she hired a company to haul away trash along with the fridge, but she wonders how many others will wait or pay for a service, and if all private services properly dispose of bulk trash.

“I really do hope they are taking it to the city dump because otherwise, why is it that I walk by this park and you can find a couch or you can find a lawnmower and you can, you know, find a refrigerator?” said Koudou.

According to the city’s FY24 budget, $1.3 million is spent on bulk trash collection. Sofastaii asked what's being done to address these lengthy wait times.

Combs confirmed that DPW will be reviewing its scheduling process for collecting white goods to see if adjustments can be made to reach residents sooner.

In comparison, standard or non--appliance bulk trash pick-ups are much quicker with the average wait around 40 days. Only 11 requests remain open from last year.

Residents also have the option of bringing their items to a residential drop-off center for proper disposal. There are five residential drop-off centers accepting bulk items that are open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Click here for a list of those locations.

Residents seeking immediate disposal of items may want to hire a licensed private hauler or consider donating any usable items.

Sofastaii asked DPW how residents can verify if a hauler is licensed. DPW referred Sofastaii to the Health Department, who distributes the licenses. Blair Adams, the director of communications for the City Health Department, said haulers are not required to advertise, however they must display their license prominently inside their vehicle, such that it is visible from outside the vehicle at all times.

Residents are not currently able to verify a hauler's license online, but they may contact the Baltimore City Health Department at 410-396-4428 to request the permit status of a waste hauler.