Wheaton wants to hear residents' opinions on garbage collection

 
 

Residents who want to offer their opinion on garbage collection options in Wheaton will get their chance next week.

The city council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at city hall to consider a staff recommendation to sign a contract with Lakeshore Recycling Systems. It would replace the current one-time-use garbage stickers with permanent tags that use radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology.

The city's five-year contact with Veolia ES Solid Waste Midwest is set to expire Sept. 30, but a new contract must be executed by Aug. 1. City staffers spent months reviewing trends in the waste collection industry and evaluating five proposals before offering suggestions on how the council should move forward.

They also reviewed the results of a community survey completed by more than 2,100 residents that showed people overwhelmingly wanted to keep volume-based pricing in a community that contains a variety of household sizes and consumption habits.

Based on the survey, the staff and council agreed on three primary goals when selecting a new garbage collection program. Those goals included keeping the current pay-as-you-throw model; moving to an automated collection system, so waste containers can be emptied by mechanical arms; and including the option for food scrap collection.

If the council moves forward with the staff recommendation, each household will receive a garbage cart and a recycling cart with an RFID tag linked to the customer's account. Whenever the carts are emptied, the garbage truck and carts will wirelessly communicate to charge "tipping fees" to the account.

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A cost evaluation by the staff showed some families likely would save money.

For example, a family of five with three teenage children that recycles, uses an average of two garbage stickers a week and purchases several yard and leaf collection stickers now pays about $441 a year. Under the Lakeshore Recycling Systems program, the annual cost would drop to about $270.

Savings are expected for smaller households as well. A senior citizen who lives in a condominium with no need for yard stickers and who also recycles and averages one garbage sticker every other week would see a savings of at least $24 a year, with costs lowering to $74 from about $98 annually.

In a memo to the city council, Assistant City Manager John Duguay said the staff was recommending the RFID program because of its cost-effectiveness and adherence to the three goals.

"It represents the cutting edge of waste collection, as it combines automated collection with pay-as-you-throw pricing for both garbage and collectibles," he wrote.

In April, the staff said the technology is so new it has been introduced in only a handful of communities nationwide, including Highland Park and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Anyone who cannot attend next week's council meeting can share their ideas by calling Duguay at (630) 260-2033, or by emailing comments to feedback@wheaton.il.us. To see more details about all the options the city is considering, visit wheaton.il.us.

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