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Posted on: April 10, 2020

City moving to automated garbage collection

The City provided garbage can is warm gray with the City seal and website on the side.

The City of Lenoir Public Works Department is moving to automated garbage collection this year. On Tuesday, City Council adopted a new sanitation ordinance as part of the move.

Public Works Director Jared Wright said the move will improve the City’s garbage collection service in a few different ways.

"We’ve been planning to move to fully automated collection for a while, and we started the process last year," Wright said. "We currently use semi-automated collection, which includes a driver, two laborers or ‘pullers’, and rear-loading trucks”. Automated collection allows one worker to run a route. It’s faster and more efficient, and we can assign the other two workers to help with other sanitation services."

Automated collection is also safer for workers and improves working conditions.

"Now more than ever, we need to make our garbage collectors’ jobs as safe as possible," Wright said. "With automated collection, we minimize human contact with garbage, in most cases. Automated collection also makes the job a bit easier."

"Garbage collection is a hard job, and those employees are often underappreciated. The move to automated collection should streamline the collection process for residents, but also enhance job safety for sanitation employees”.

The new Sanitation Ordinance adds a lot of clarification to how the City handles garbage collection. It also improves service to residents.

Under the new ordinance, residents will get one free bulk pickup per month. This free monthly bulk pickup is going to replace the bi-annual trash bash. Residents will be able to request extra bulk pickups, if needed, for an extra fee.

"Now, we’ll basically have 12 trash bashes a year," Wright said. "All residents will have to do is request the pickup."

To request a bulk pickup, residents can visit the Garbage Collection page on the City website. Submit a Bulk Garbage Collection Request and sanitation workers will come by as soon as possible to pick up bulk items. Bulk items are things like mattresses, furniture, bags of trash and items from cleaning out a room. Bulk collection will generally run on Wednesday.

"If you submit your monthly bulk pickup request by Tuesday, then we will most likely pick it up Wednesday," Wright said. "If you submit it on Wednesday or after, then it might be the next Wednesday before we pick it up. I think people will like this a lot. Now you won’t have to wait on the trash bash to get rid of your junk."

Automated collection will need new, special garbage cans that the automated garbage truck can pick up. The City is purchasing 95-gallon, roll-out contains to give to customers. 

Residents will get one 95-gallon roll-out container and businesses will get two at no additional cost. Residents can rent up to two more containers, $5 each per month, and businesses can rent up to four more containers, also $5 each per month.

Wright said he expects to hear some complaints and concerns about the extra fee per extra container. He said the additional fee per cart will help maintain the additional cans, and make the service fair for all customers. 

The City has to pay tipping fees to put trash in the county landfill. Some residents produce a lot more trash every week than other residents. The City is actually paying more for the residents who produce more trash than for people who put out one bag a week.

"On top of that, currently residents pay the same monthly fee whether they sit out one bag a week, or 20," Wright said. "Providing one cart at no extra cost and requiring that residents and business pay a fee for more carts will make the service much more equitable to residents and to the City. People who use more of the service will pay a little more, just like with any other service".

If for some reason, residents have more trash than will fit in one can, they can use their free monthly bulk pick up. If people are producing more garage every week than can fit in the container, they will need to rent a second container.

Automated collection is not new or revolutionary. Many neighboring municipalities have been collecting garbage this way for years.

"We expect some growing pains in this process, but once residents understand the new requirements and see that our level of service hasn’t changed, we expect those initial concerns to subside," Wright said. "I also think this change will help us move more resources to other sanitation services such as brush pickup and leaf collection. At the end of the day, I think the vast majority of our residents will appreciate the change."

A contractor will start delivering the new cans May 4 to 11. Sanitation Division staff will start automated collection on a test route around the middle of May. Deliveries of the new garbage cans will continue through June.

"If all goes well, we’ll be running the automated trucks in the majority of the City in July," Wright said.

Click the links below to view and download Wright’s presentation to Council, the updated fee schedule, and the new Sanitation Ordinance.

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