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SHERMAN OAKS : Company Will Drop Free Garbage Pickup

There’s no such thing as a free lunch--or free trash collection.

Waste Management Inc., the company that collects litter from trash cans along the Ventura Boulevard business district in Sherman Oaks free of charge, announced it will no longer provide the service unless it is paid $1,200 a month for labor and pickup costs.

Bill Jones, operations manager for Waste Management, said that because the company’s budget for this type of service is exhausted, it would have to charge for labor, hauling and disposal.

Jones said the service has been provided gratis because it is a good cause and Waste Management prides itself on being a good corporate citizen.

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But, he said, “the cost of service has become a burden.”

“We’d like to continue doing it but it’s becoming extremely expensive.”

Waste Management is working with the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce to find a way to fund the service, which has been provided free since 1984. Topax, a trash collection company headquartered in Sun Valley, originally provided the free pickup along Ventura Boulevard until Waste Management bought out that company in June 1993.

Waste Management has since collected trash from 40 bins in various spots along Ventura Boulevard between the San Diego Freeway and Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

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According to Jeff Brain, chamber past president, the chamber is looking for other trash companies to take over the service as well as seeking donations from individual merchants in the area. The chamber is also asking the city to provide funds for pickup costs.

The chamber has asked Waste Management to give it until Sept. 1 to find the needed funds.

“Chamber members are even considering donating their own money for the service,” said Brain. He added that the chamber may contact various radio stations to sponsor a pickup program in which a station would receive free advertising on the side of trash collection bins.

Jeff Cristol, chamber member and initiator of the trash pickup program in 1984, believes Waste Management reneged on its responsibility to the community when it decided to discontinue the free trash collection.

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“There’s something known as corporate responsibility,” said Cristol. “They (Waste Management) withdrew their former commitment to supply the service and pulled back on their commitment to the community. They carried the responsibility of contributing to a worthwhile project which kept our streets clean.”

Jones agreed it is unfortunate Waste Management cannot continue to provide the service free. “We need some help to offset the labor costs. I agree it’s a worthwhile cause. We did a lot of community work during the earthquake and it dissipated our funds.”

“We (the chamber) appreciate the service Waste Management provided for the time they could,” said Brain. “We’ll move on and try to find some means to keep the program going. . . . We understand that situations change.”


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