The trash cart rolls on.
The city’s Solid Waste Task Force made its strongest statement yet that it believes residents should be required to use city-issued trash carts instead of trash cans or bags.
The task force Wednesday evening unanimously agreed to include in its draft report a statement calling for the city to increase the automation of its trash collection system by requiring use of the carts. The task force cited that the carts will save the city money and cut down on injuries of sanitation workers because the carts can be emptied using hydraulic lifts rather than being lifted by employees.
“In order for the city to have a competitive operation and to make good progress, this is the way the industry is going,” said Charlie Sedlock, a task force member who also is a manager for Hamm Inc., the company that operates the landfill used by the city.
Task force members, though, weren’t able to reach such agreement on whether to create a pricing system that would charge people based on the amount of trash they set out each week. The task force has discussed a “variable rate pricing” system that would charge people based on the number of carts they use to contain their trash. A household that needs two carts from the city to manage its trash would pay more than a household that needs only one, for example.
But task force members said they weren’t yet ready to include that idea in the draft report. Members said they wanted more information about how households that occasionally have more trash than can fit into one container would be charged. Several task force members said that such occasional overages shouldn’t force a household into renting a second cart from the city.
“I just don’t think we have explored this concept in enough depth,” said Suzi Cammon, a task force member.
The issue of curbside recycling also was determined to need more study by the task force. Task force members expressed a strong desire to add a curbside recycling component to the city’s service. But several members said they were concerned about what the public’s reaction would be to a system that required all households in the city to pay for curbside recycling, regardless of whether a household chooses to use the service.
City officials do not yet have a firm estimate for how much such a service may cost. Staff members suggested that the task force recommend a request for proposals from private companies on two types of services. One service would be a “turn-key” service where the private company would do the collection and processing of recycled materials. The second service would be a processing-only service. Under that scenario, city crews would do the collection of the curbside recycling.
Receiving official proposals from private companies would allow the city to create a firm estimate on how much curbside recycling would cost the average household. Ultimately, city commissioners would decide whether the service is financially feasible.
Task force members Wednesday said they wanted to have more discussion before making any recommendations on curbside recycling.
Task force members did agree on several other potential recommendations. They included:
• Continuing to have trash picked up once per week by city crews. The task force showed no interest in outsourcing the city-operated trash service to a private company.
• Maintaining weekly collection of yard trimmings, in order for those materials to be diverted from the landfill.
• An examination of whether “vegetative food waste” — basically food that is not dairy or meat-based — could be picked up and recycled at the same time yard trimmings are collected. City staff members said there was good potential to include the food waste items into the city’s composting operations.
The task force is expected to complete its draft report by the end of the year. The report then will be forwarded to the City Commission, which will make the final decision on any changes to the city’s trash or recycling systems.