‘How America Works’ gets down and dirty with Alabama’s waste management

An inside look at Alabama’s waste management

‘How America Works’ teams up with waste company MDI to detail a day in the life of garbage pickup.

Americans produce nearly five million tons of trash per week and it’s not going to pick up itself.

More than 200,000 men and women across the country have devoted their lives to collecting waste, including the employees at Alabama waste management company MDI. Driver Samantha Moten and her partner Jerry took FOX Business’ "How America Works" around on their daily pickup route – a day jam-packed with flowing garbage cans and added stops as America’s worker shortage prevails.

"With the driver and tipper shortage, it might put us a little bit more behind but this trash has to get picked up," Moten said.

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Moten and her team at MDI have just 10 hours to collect more than 200 tons of garbage before the landfill closes at 5 p.m. sharp, or else face double the workload the following day.

The duo hit a few speed bumps en route, coming in contact with trash bins without bars – which aid in hoisting the scraps into the back of the truck – and being forced to pull over for a flat tire. Never mind the ever-lasting risk of being covered with raw garbage which is an experience Moten checked off her list on day one.

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"I dipped a can and I just got splattered with sour milk. And I thought, why? How did I get to this point in my life?" she laughed. "But it makes me feel good that I’m able to help in the sense that we’re keeping the planet clean."

While Moten whips a back-end loader garbage truck, fellow driver Lee Bryant collects dumpster trash with his front-end loader vehicle, and he too is picking up extra stops amid the worker shortage.

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"Everybody’s got to pitch in and do their part," he said. "Sometimes that’s just the way it rolls, it’s just the way it works. So you just got to have a clear mind, a relaxed mind and get the job done."

Bryant put major emphasis on taking the time to get the job done right, always making sure each dumpster is clear of animals or people by bumping the exterior with the truck’s front forks. 

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Now that drivers have taken on more work and added stops, just finding unfamiliar locations of cans can really slow the already time-sensitive process. But after Moten's hectic day filled with slow-downs and flats, she luckily made it to the landfill right on time.

Watch "How America Works" on FOX Business, Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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