Janesville's new trash-collection-system kickoff approaches

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Marcia Nelesen
Friday, March 29, 2013

— Excitement might be a strong term, but it’s safe to say at least some Janesville residents are looking forward to an automated trash collection system, beginning April 29, which means they will no longer need to separate recyclables.

Cart distribution begins Monday. Residents will get two wheeled carts—one for trash and one for recyclables.

The city will distribute 47,000 carts, either 95 gallons or 65 gallons in size. Residents earlier put in requests for about 7,000 of the smaller carts.

John Whitcomb, operations director, acknowledged the large carts can be unwieldy, but he predicted residents will get used to them quickly.

“I think in the end Janesville’s going to be just like (other communities where) a vast majority of residents are going to appreciate the automated service and, especially, single-stream collection,” Whitcomb said.

Communities that switch to single-stream recycling typically see a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in recyclables at the curb, he said.

City workers especially are looking forward to the mechanical arms to do the heavy lifting. The automated system is expected to drastically reduce worker compensation claims, Whitcomb said.

The program was rescheduled from October because of a manufacturing accident at the plant producing the carts.

Starting April 29, residents should put their carts to the curb on regularly scheduled collection days. Recycling carts should be put out the same week or the week of May 6, depending on the schedule for each address.

Automated collection is more efficient than manual collection, and Whitcomb said his department has been carrying two vacancies for a year in anticipation of the change.

Under the current system, a single worker can service between 750 and 800 homes per truck per day. With the automated system, a worker should be able to serve more than 1,000 homes a day.

“We encourage people to be patient while going through this initial phase,” Whitcomb said. “It is new to us, as well, and there will be a few bumps along the way, I’m sure. But these systems have proven themselves to be very good systems.”

Below are answers from city staff in response to common questions:

Q: Do I need to be home when you drop off the carts?

A: No. The city cannot give specifics dates, so talk to a neighbor about putting them in a good spot if you are out of town.

Q: What if I want to change the size of my cart?

You can do that beginning in June. Other communities told Whitcomb people get comfortable with their carts once they start using them. They are large, but they tip and roll fairly easily, Whitcomb said.

Q: What do I do with my old containers?

A: Some are recyclable, but some aren’t. Some have wheels. They are different sizes. Whitcomb suggested people use them for other purposes, such as hauling leaves or branches for the yard waste pickup.

You can recycle your old 18-gallon square recyclable bin by putting it into your recyclable cart.

The city will set up a drop-off site at the landfill for old garbage containers.

“We’d just as soon not have them (the garbage containers) going into the landfill because of the volume,” Whitcomb said.

“We’re not promoting that people put them in their trash,” especially because the bulkier containers could get stuck in a collection truck’s opening.

Q: How do I position the cart on the curb?

A: The cart handle should face the house and the lid opening should face the street. Arrows on the carts indicate the positions. Other information is in a brochure attached to the carts.

Q: Can I take the carts with me if I move?

A: No. The carts remain at the address to which they were issued.

Q: How will the city keep track of the carts?

A: Each cart has a serial number and electronic ID tag linked to the address receiving the cart.

Q: Is there a charge for an additional trash or recycling cart?

A: Residents can receive an additional recycling cart at no cost, provided they are using a 95-gallon recycling cart. Each additional cart costs $50 and then belongs to the resident who buys it.

Q: What can I recycle?

A: Aluminum cans, aluminum foil and pie tins, cardboard, cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, glass jars and bottles, junk mail, plastic containers marked No. 1 through No. 7, magazines and catalogs, newspapers and inserts, office paper and file folders, paper bags, plastic shopping bags, telephone books and tin or steel cans.

This information also is displayed on the lid of each recycling cart.

Q: What items cannot be recycled?

A: Bubble wrap, ceramics or dishes, electronics, foam packaging peanuts, food waste, hazardous waste containers, light bulbs, window glass or mirrors, motor oil containers, pizza boxes, syringes or medical waste and yard waste.

This information also is displayed on the lid of each recycling cart.

Last updated: 8:15 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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