Trash and junk removal spiked during the height of the pandemic lockdowns in Williamson County. 

Trash collection at Williamson County’s convenience centers, where residents can drop off their own trash, spiked by more than 16% between March and August, compared to the same period last year. The convenience centers collected 10,576 tons of trash between March and August, up from 9,076 tons for those months in 2019. 

“With time on their hands, it appears everyone cleaned out garages, closets and attics,” Williamson County Solid Waste Director Nancy Zion wrote in an email.

The trash dropped off by residents at convenience centers doesn’t include all the trash in the county. Those numbers don’t include trash picked up by private companies or the cities within the county. 

Zion said the spike in drop offs has been challenging at times, but the waste department has been able to handle the increase. Private companies have noticed an increased need for trash collection as well. 

"When the pandemic first hit, it was heavy. It might be a little bit heavier than what it was, but everything seems to be back to normal now,” Gray’s Disposal owner Edwin Gray said. 

Gray’s company serves several counties surrounding Nashville in eluding Williamson County. While residential trash pick up increased last spring, Gray said trash pick up at local businesses was lower than normal because so many people are working from home. 

Mike Davis, the CEO of the Wichita, Kansas,-based junk removal company 1-800-JUNKPRO, said his company got more than 400 inquiries about junk removal from the Nashville area, even though his company doesn’t provide service here.

“They're really searching because we're not marketing for our service there because we're not in that area,” Davis said. “When that happens, it's a big flag for us to do some research on the area and see if it's a good area, and it is. There's a lot of growth.”

Davis now says he wants to open a franchise in the Nashville area because of the high number of requests. 

In Nashville, trash from honky-tonks and downtown businesses dropped by 77% while residential garbage has increased by about 13%, according to reporting from Marketplace

Davis said revenue at his company has increased about 14% compared to the year before because of increased demand across the U.S. The busiest months were at the beginning of pandemic lockdowns, and he said the demand has started to get back to normal. 

“People were at home. They were purging. Now, it's starting to level back out,” Davis said. “If we have another wave of it people will be back at home. They'll start cleaning stuff out again. We're preparing for that.”

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