It's a dirty job, but there's more than one way to do it.
Trash in Wakefield has always been collected conventionally, with each resident supplying his or her own trash cans and trash bags and having it hand-collected by two people on a large truck.
However, Department of Public Works Director Rick Stinson has proposed switching the town to a new automated trash pickup system, which would use new trucks equipped with a robotic arm to pick up special town-supplied trash bins from the curb.
"We have the ability to improve the efficiency of our current disposal program and to take a more environmentally friendly approach in our refuse collection program," said Stinson, noting that nearby towns that have switched to this system have seen increases in recycling and decreases in trash.
Details of Potential Program
Under the new system, one 65 gallon trash container would be distributed to each single-family residence in town. Two, three, or four family homes would receive two, three or four containers. Additional containers can be rented from the town at a cost of $150 per barrel per year.
"Special event bags" would be available to residents to help with a one-time higher-than-normal trash flow after an event like birthdays, holidays and parties. A bag of five special event bags costs $10.
Bulky item pickup, for trash items like couches or furniture that will not fit in the barrel, would be done day per week, a change from the current approach. Stinson said the details of this part of the plan still need to be developed.
"If we could reduce waste stream by 2400 tons, the town would save $146,208," he said. "This does not include operating cost savings or additional paper recycling revenue."
Stinson added that other cost-savings to the town would include reducing the need for three trucks staffed with two people each, to two trucks with two people each. Stinson was hestinant to put any hard numbers on what other savings could include until he had time to develop and compare the new program with the conventional one.
However, the plan is still in its very initial stages, and may not even be implemented at all.
Stinson asked the Board of Selectmen on Nov. 28 for approval to compare the costs of the current method with the new automated method to see what the potential savings and impacts were of each program so that a decision could be made on which system to use.
If it's implemented, the new automated trash collection program would begin in July of 2012.