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El Paso halts recycling pickups due to driver shortage amid virus surge

garbage trash recycling
Trash and recycling sits out ready for pickup.

EL PASO, Texas -- Recycling pickup services in the city of El Paso will be suspended next month due to a lack of drivers amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Environmental Services Director Ellen Smyth said a lack of drivers due to virus-related illness was prompting the change. The city's staff of 82 solid waste truck drivers has dropped to just 60, she explained.

This will be the last week of recycling pickup services for 200,000 homes, Smyth told City Council during their Monday meeting.

“Unfortunately, our workforce has been hit hard by the pandemic. We must temporarily scale back some operations to ensure that we can continue to perform our essential solid waste services, which are operating the landfill and collection of household trash," Smyth said. "During these uncertain times, we are asking our customers for their understanding and cooperation by putting their blue bins away as we work to address these staffing shortages."

With pickup being halted, Smyth recommends residents take their items for recycling to one of the five city collection sites, all of which will resume normal operations on Dec. 1. Residents can also store their recyclables if possible, until operations resume.

If residents are unable to take recyclables and drop them off at a collection site, she said they can put those items in their grey bins along with the trash, which will unfortunately go to the landfill.

There was no immediate word as to how long recycling pickup services would remain suspended. El Pasoans with recycling questions can call (915) 212-6000 for information.

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.



  1. This has nothing to do with shortage of drivers. Revenue is way down due to lost tax revenues because of the shutdowns. Lot’s more of this type of attrition coming.

      1. Why is it always the city making budget cuts? I don’t see the school districts making any budget cuts. Instead, they overpay their superintendents over $300,000 a year each plus enormous benefits.

  2. A bunch of old sour grapes around here. Oh, that’s right, they lost their orange 🍊 blimp. Oh well, bless their little bitty sour and lost the election hearts.

  3. Prediction: Once COVID Is gone , HISTORIC BILLION DOLLAR BONDS, taxes, taxes,taxes. Indirect taxation! Just look at the cops giving tickets like no tmro. To Construction trucks, Etc. Screwing the few that have jobs to feed their families. Meanwhile city council getting full pay, sitting at home, including city prosecutors, judges, etc. Remodeling their homes.

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