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Elkhorn awaits smaller carts to make trash disposal easier

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Darryl Enriquez
August 4, 2011
— In early April, Max von Dahlen asked Elkhorn’s trash collector—Veolia Environmental Services—to replace his two 95-gallon collection carts with 65-gallon receptacles.

The city’s new trash collection system is 16-weeks old, and only 13 of 145 residents who asked for smaller carts have gotten them, City Administrator Sam Tapson said Monday.


“There is no question that Veolia has not delivered the smaller carts in a timely manner … ” Tapson wrote in a memo to city council members.


The city cut the frequency of its recycling pickups and required residents to use collection carts, instead of regular garbage cans. They were given 95-gallon carts for trash and for recyclables.


Trash is collected once a week. The change is that recyclables are picked up once every two weeks, instead of weekly.


“The provision to exchange carts is not in the contract, but Veolia made a verbal commitment at a public meeting to exchange the 95- for 65-gallon carts if customers ask them to do so,” Tapson said.


The city’s municipal services committee at its last meeting asked that it receive copies of the contract and a legal review before its meeting this month.


Von Dahlen said he was unhappy with the city because he was not offered a choice in cart size when the new collection system began in April. Instead, everyone received 95-gallon carts.


“It’s not easy for me or my wife to handle,” the 66-year-old von Dahlen said of the carts. “Ninety-five-gallon trash carts take up too much room in our garage. And when a cart is full, it’s almost impossible to handle because it’s heavy and cumbersome. I just don’t need something that big. “


His condo association requires that garbage containers be kept in garages, von Dahlen said. The couple must move the cart from their garage to the curb for pickup about 30 feet away, he added.


Veolia hasn’t delivered the smaller carts due to the backlog of demand at the cart manufacturer in Michigan, Tapson said.


Andy Rechenmacher, Veolia operations manager, said: “We’re working diligently with the city to come to terms with our agreement.”


“Not to defend Veolia,” Tapson wrote, “but, while clearly not meeting expectations, this situation is a production issue and should not be construed as willful neglect on Veolia’s part. The manufacturer of the carts (Cascade Industries) produces carts as orders are received so Veolia must wait its turn in the queue.”


Veolia reported that the smaller carts will arrive in August, and distribution will occur as soon as the carts are available, Tapson wrote.


“I’m not happy with the way it was handled,” von Dahlen said.



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