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City dumps old trash disposal system in favor of new, automatic pick-up

Andrew tucker The City of Grinnell will switch to an automatic pick-up system for trash this spring, which requires these new carts. Photo by Andrew Tucker.

In the spring of 2019, the city of Grinnell will be implementing a new automatic pick-up program for trash disposal. The program requires Grinnell residents to choose a new waste cart for their property before the Feb. 22 deadline. If they do not choose a specific time, all residents will receive the medium-sized cart, which holds 65 gallons.

To select a small or large cart (35-gallon or 95-gallon), residents must either visit or call 844-458-9570. The first cart will be free to residents; after that, any replacements or changes will cost $50.

With automatic pickup, workers do not move garbage bags from the cart to the garbage truck. Instead, a pneumatic arm attached to the truck lifts the cart and dumps the contents into the trucks, hence the need for the new carts, which are shaped to allow for being picked up by the arm.

Grinnell City Manager Russell Behrens explained the reasoning behind the new automated system.

“The primary reason we made this switch is for employee safety and wellness,” he said. “We experience quite a bit of worker injury in the solid waste department, so that’s a big part of the reason we’re going to the automated system. The other piece of it would be to gain efficiency. We think that we’ll probably be able to take what we’re doing now in four days and do it in three, and we should be able to do that pretty easily, so that’ll save a little bit on staff time, in addition to improving the work environment for those employees.”

As with the current solid waste collection system, Behrens explained, Grinnell residents will continue to pay for disposal services based on the amount of garbage they generate. Per month, the cost will be $8.50 for the 35-gallon cart, $12.50 for the 65-gallon cart, and $16.50 for the 95-gallon cart, plus a $5 flat fee each month. Previously, residents had to pay for waste disposal by buying individual marked disposal bags, priced at $1.30 plus tax. For large items over 60 pounds in weight, residents could purchase $16 disposal stickers and arrange with the Public Service Department for a specialized pickup.

“One of the things that we’re hearing from residents that they’re going to enjoy about this system is that they’ll no longer have to buy the yellow bags,” Behrens said.

In addition to the changes to the garbage disposal program, the city is also eliminating its curbside recycling pickup program. As a result, residents will either have to move their own recycling to the public service building so it will be taken to a recycling facility, or elect to purchase a larger waste cart to accommodate both the property’s garbage and the material that would otherwise have been recycled.

Behrens said, “I will elect to bring my recycling down to the public service building and dump it there, so the amount of garbage I’m generating won’t change.” But he reminds residents who are not planning to carry out their recycling to choose a larger cart size so that they’ll have enough room for their waste disposal.

Behrens said that the new system will increase efficiency by eliminating a time-consuming component from the workdays of drivers of the city’s waste-disposal trucks. “The way it’s done right now, our driver has to drive to the stop, park the truck, get out of the truck, throw the garbage in the side of the truck, get back in the truck, engage the truck, and drive to the next stop, so obviously [the new system] will save quite a bit of time.”

Andrew tucker
The City of Grinnell will switch to an automatic pick-up system for trash this spring, which requires these new carts. Photo by Andrew Tucker.
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