Wheaton garbage collection changes likely

Standard containers may be implemented

 
 

The use of standardized containers and food scrap collection are just a few garbage collection changes Wheaton residents might see later this year.

The city council Monday discussed various options for the future of waste collection, as the current five-year contact with Veolia ES Solid Waste Midwest is set to expire Sept. 30.

The conversation was driven by the results of a resident survey on the topic, which was completed by more than 2,100 people.

Overall, most residents said they were satisfied with the current system. They overwhelmingly supported the pay-as-you-throw structure, but the sticker system that allows for that structure drew a mixture of positive and negative responses.

Assistant City Manager Michael Dzugan and management intern Thomas Schubert suggested that the next contract keep the pay-as-you-throw model, but they said it could take on a new form.

One option is to replace the one-time-use stickers with permanent tags that use radio frequency identification technology. The technology is new and has been introduced only in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where residents pay a tipping fee of $3.05 for a 35-gallon cart, $5.10 for a 65-gallon cart and $7.15 for a 95-gallon cart.

Later this year, Highland Park will become the second municipality in the nation to implement the service, but residents there will pay a base monthly fee of about $5 in addition to the cost of a tipping fee.

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City staffers also suggested the city seek a company that would introduce food-scrap collection, as the idea was well-received by residents in the survey, and move to automated collection, which allows containers to be emptied into trucks by mechanical arms instead of by hand.

Standardized carts are required to make the switch to automated collection. City staffers said there may be resistance from residents because the carts often require monthly fees. However, they said automated collection is a growing trend and waste hauling companies are increasingly avoiding serving municipalities that require manual collection.

"It just creates a better environment for their employees," Dzugan said, adding that it means fewer worker injuries and finishing trash collection more efficiently. "If we stay with the sticker program you probably will get less bids ... because they don't want to provide a manual type collection."

A request for proposals is expected to be complete and available by May 1.

The city council is expected to review the proposed costs and take action on the topic by July 1.

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