LJWorld.com weblogs Kansas cynic

Garbage collection in Lawrence: Beware changes


I have always admired the curbside trash collection system in Lawrence. It's almost always on time, the trash collectors are hardworking and courteous -- even when their goodwill is tested by over-stuffed bins or bulky items. And, they're quick -- as I understand it -- because they are paid by for the job and not just by the hour; every minute they save by not goldbricking means they get off work a minute earlier, which seems efficient and fair.

Lately, however, there's been talk at city hall about changing the system, including using more automation that would require specialty trash bins and such.

I'm naturally conservative; if it ain't broke don't fix it. A Dec. 31st story in the Wall Street Journal suggests Toledo's trash collection system as a case study in the need for caution.

"Barely a year ago, city officials here [Toledo] pledged to residents that they could automate trash collection and balance the trash budget without any cuts to service. Since then, they have been scrambling to deal with headaches associated with the new system and its bin-grabbing trucks, which have left messes on residents' curbs and saddled the city with $1.3 million in unanticipated expenses."

I think our City Hall bureaucrats and often ham-fisted city commissioners ought to examine carefully the Toledo example, and be very cautious about overhauling the trash collection system in Lawrence, a system that seems to be working pretty well.


sweatybutcher 7 years, 5 months ago

I'd like to second that! These guys do a great job, and I appreciate it! Keep it up CofL workers.

tomatogrower 7 years, 5 months ago

Let's keep an eye on when this will be discussed at the city commission and show are support in numbers at the meeting.

irvan moore 7 years, 5 months ago

i like the guys on the trucks and i love the good service.

JackMcKee 7 years, 5 months ago

I heard Lawrence was paying OT for guys working 40 hour weeks. Is that still going on?

jogger 7 years, 5 months ago

I have seen the automated trucks in action and not only are they messy and slow, but loud and obnoxious....and since they dump from above...imagine that on a windy Kansas day!

Further, the costs to upgrade will also be eliminating jobs, not a good goal for Lawrence.

deec 7 years, 5 months ago

Those large carts are also difficult for elderly and disabled folks to wrangle to the curb. Plus they need a 2 or 3 foot clearance on all sides for the truck to operate properly. When they were instituted in Hays, the city went down the allies and butchered quite a few trees to make room for the truck arm to operate. I have that same sort of service in the small town I live in now. Thanks to the curbside recycling they also offer, my giant blue cart needs emptying maybe once a month. Somebody is making a lot of money selling new trucks and carts to cities.

Radar Callaway 7 years, 5 months ago

Some automated trash pick up systems were designed to reduce injuries. They still required people to operate the equipment. The ones I have seen required a driver plus two people to roll the trash bins to the truck (one person for each side of the road). What is the condition of the current fleet of trucks being used to pick up the trash? How did you determine that the current system is working well? Just what costs are associated with the expected savings? Why were cities that are successfully using the automated trash pick up systems not considered in the discussions. Hays was mentioned as having problems with the new system. I found articles that stated Hays, KS had some start up challenges, but later articles say that it is working for them. Obviously, whatever Toledo did wrong should not be repeated in Lawrence. Lessons can be learned and better solutions can be found. Personally, I do not buy the logic that the city is considering a change just to displease you. The city of Lawrence is already doing something right, since you are happy with the service. As it is with most editorials, only one view point is presented and many details are omitted.

tomatogrower 7 years, 5 months ago

But why change something if it isn't broke? Just to make a change? There are plenty of things that do need to be fixed in this town. Trash service isn't one of them, except we have to do our own recycling for the most part.

christie 7 years, 5 months ago

Where I now live... the city picks up garbage twice a week, and they gave every resident bins for recycling.

With the money saved from paying land-fills with recyclable goods, plus the money they make by selling the recycled goods, my city subsidizes a city bus service that is practical and very cheap.

If you're not recycling you're just throwing it all away.

Alceste 7 years, 5 months ago

The sanitation workers earn their money and at nearly a 100% injury rate.

What needs to be fixed is the way we're charged by the City for the service. Why should a household of one which needs the trash to be hauled 2x per month pay as much as the household of 7 that has 2 filled containers each and every week?

Heather Perry 7 years, 5 months ago

i think they oughta leave it the way it is and my ? is why do trash trucks need GPS? was article in ljworld about last week or something

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