Columbia City Council discusses change to trash collection method

Monday, May 7, 2012 | 9:34 p.m. CDT; updated 6:17 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 8, 2012

COLUMBIA — City Council members discussed a potential move from plastic trash bags to roll carts during Monday's pre-council meeting.

If the move is approved, trash collection teams would switch from two-man teams to a single driver who would drive the truck and operate a mechanical arm that picks up trash containers from the curb. The recycling program would not be changed.

One of the advantages of the roll cart system is that it is easier work for employees, Solid Waste Utility Manager Richard Wieman said. The cost of workers compensation insurance would be reduced.

The switch would also make trash collection a pay-as-you-throw system because residents who throw away more trash would have to pay more for larger containers or additional containers, Wieman said. Those throwing away small amounts of trash would only pay the base fee charge.

A 2011 survey of almost 2,000 people showed just more than half of respondents wanted the switch to happen, Wieman said. It would cost nearly $6 million to implement the program, which includes 10 new collection vehicles and 44,000 roll carts. It would also take about 12 months to implement after approval.

Disadvantages include curbside parking that could disrupt trash pickup and residents leaving carts at the curb after collection days.

Other cities that use the roll cart system include Jefferson City and Fulton.

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Ellis Smith May 8, 2012 | 6:23 a.m.

I've seen the proposed method used in residential neighborhoods having individual dwellings and with up to three rolling bins per pick up (each bin having a separate waste). It works well, provided the bins aren't overloaded for weight (and there's a fine for that).

What about situations involving buildings with multiple tenants and where there are two or more stories to the building and no elevator? Where will the bins sit when they are not out for pick up, and how many multi-story buildings have elevators?

The present trash collection policy allows those with medical waivers to put their trash bags at their doors, not at the curb. One supposes that practice will be stopped; otherwise it will defeat the purpose of faster trash pickup. I foresee some very unhappy senior citizens or other handicapped persons.

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