In mid-April the city will test a new automated solid waste collection program. It will start in the southwest part of Spencer, picking up recycling only. Eventually, the program will progress to the whole city in July and include both recycling and garbage pick-up.
An automated system means a driver doesn't leave the cab of the truck because there is an arm that lifts and dumps the recycling and garbage cans into the back of the truck.
The city is in the process of receiving quotes for an additional truck and new automated cans, according to Director of Public Works Mark White.
A low quote for an additional truck is $216,000. And the new containers will cost $350,000-$360,000 depending on delivery options, but the city hasn't made a decision yet. It would cost $400,000 if a company delivered the containers.
"There are a couple reasons driving this," White said. "It is a way to promote increased recycling with larger containers available to the public. And we want to increase efficiency of the operation and give a safe work environment to employees." The automated system keeps employees safe because they won't be getting out of the cab to dump the cans into the truck. Solid waste collection is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, due to accidents involving the truck.
According to White, there will be no additional cost to the public to implement the new system. The pick-up for recycling will be every other week, but garbage pick-up will be the same.
"There will be no changes to the frequency or days of pick-up," White said.
The new containers will be 95-gallon recycling containers and 64-gallon containers for garbage. Though the current recycling container is smaller at 25 gallons, the larger new ones are easy to maneuver, due to wheels on the bottom.
"It will help tremendously on recycling efforts," said Solid Waste Superintendent Kent Herbold. "I think it will be a big benefit."
According to White, the city has been working towards "this conversion" for quite awhile. The initial plan was to just have the "pilot" recycling collection for a year but further investigation prompted the city to do both recycling and garbage at the same time.
"We want this to work well with the public," White said.