Wheaton council approves contract for high-tech garbage collection
Garbage in Wheaton will be collected and billed with radio frequency identification technology starting Oct. 1.
The Wheaton City Council approved a five-year contract with Lakeshore Recycling Systems Monday that will replace the current one-time-use garbage stickers with permanent tags that use RFID technology.
The new system will continue the city's current pay-as-you-throw model, but it will use RFID tags to do so. The tags will be placed on all garbage and recycling carts, allowing them to wirelessly charge "tipping fees" to each customer's account when they are lifted onto the truck via a mechanical arm.
In addition, Lakeshore will offer an optional food scrap collection program for residents. The scraps can be disposed with yard waste.
Cost evaluations by city staff have shown that many of the approximately 14,000 Wheaton customers who will be served by Lakeshore could save money with the new system.
Prices vary depending on the garbage bin size residents select. They have the choice of 20, 35, 65 or 95 gallon bins, with prices per "tip" for the first year of the contract set at $1.43 for the 20 and 35 gallon bins, $2.86 for the 65 gallon bins and $4.29 for the 95 gallon bins. Prices will increase by a few cents every year of the contract.
Assistant City Manager John Duguay said residents will have an opportunity to pick their cart size in a few weeks via the Lakeshore website. They will have two months after the contract begins to make a change in their cart size without being charged a fee. Anyone who doesn't sign up will automatically receive a 35-gallon cart.
Recycling bins will remain, but residents have the option of switching their recycling bin size as well. 35 and 65 gallon bins will cost $1.17 per tip and 95 gallon bins will cost $1.12 per tip.
Stickers will be used for everything else, including yard waste, food scraps, bulk items, electronic waste and excess garbage. Stickers will cost $2.75 for the first year of the contract, which is 87 cents less than the current price of stickers. In the first two weeks of October, Lakeshore will honor current stickers. Residents will also have the option of getting a refund for old stickers or exchanging them for new ones for 5 weeks, beginning in mid-September.
As for billing, residents can opt for a paper or electronic invoice, or sign up for an automated payment system that deducts and replenishes funds like an I-PASS account.
A letter with more information about the changes will be delivered to residents within the next two weeks.
"Lakeshore is going above and beyond what's required by the contract for communicating this to our residents," Duguay said, adding that postcards will also be sent and informational stickers will be placed on carts in the coming weeks.
This week, Highland Park became the first community in the Chicago area and one of few in the nation to use the RFID technology for garbage pickup.