Beloit poised to launch pick-up plan

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(From left): Beloit Department of Public Works operations assistant Norma Vargas, fleet manager Danny Lutz, director of operations Chris Walsh, public works safety and sustainability coordinator and solid waste supervisor Jodine Saunders and inventory control technician Bill Mickelson stand by the new recycling truck. The city's new automated trash and recycling program will start on June 6.

BELOIT — As of Wednesday, the Beloit Department of Public Works (DPW) had three of its new automated solid waste trucks, much to the delight of their fans.

“It’s like going from a puddle jumper to a jet,” said DPW Operations Director Chris Walsh.

Two more trucks are scheduled to arrive early next week, with two more being delivered the following week.

The new trucks are part of the automated Solid Waste Program. Official say they will lower the city’s carbon footprint, save dollars over time and reduce collection costs. It also will increase the diversion of recycling out of the landfill and improve neighborhood aesthetics, officials say.

The total cost for the seven trucks is $1.4 million and the cost for the new recycling carts is $1.2 million.

Automated collection starts June 6 with seven new trucks to replace the 11 trucks currently used for manual collection, according to Walsh and Jodine Saunders, public works safety and sustainability coordinator and solid waste supervisor.

As part of the new program, residents will be receiving two new 96-gallon carts — one for trash and one for recycling. The new carts will be delivered over a period of two weeks starting on May 23.

According to the new ordinance, garbage and recycling carts must be placed at the curb by 6 a.m. on trash collection day. Staff will be collecting solid waste four days of the week.

The garbage cart has a black lid, and the recycling cart has a gray lid, with instructions. Recycling will be collected every other week, and garbage pickup is every week. Residents can co-mingle all of their recycling items in the cart, with no items needing to be separate. When carts are delivered in May, residents will receive a packet of information in the cart including a calendar and map with collection routes.

City staff encourage residents to go to the website at www.automatebeloit.com for complete program details and a video. Residents and landlords also can type in their specific address for updates and collection schedule reminders. For general questions people can call DPW Operations at 608-364-2929.

Currently residents place all their own garbage containers at the curb, so there are different bags and containers along the streets. With the new carts the look will be uniform, as residents are required to utilize the city-owned carts.

Saunders said the new program will save money in the long run and is helpful to DPW’s tight budget. Because the new trucks have an automated arm, staff no longer will have to be jumping in and out of the trucks risking injury.

Saunders explained in the past her staff has suffered from long-term injuries due to slipping when there is bad weather or snow.

“Accidents happen when they are jumping in and out 600 times a day,” she said.

DPW is able to route efficiently and flex the drivers schedules for holiday collection.

Because of added efficiencies including pre-paying, the ability to pre-schedule bulky appliance pick up and not having overtime for most holidays, the costs are reduced.

The new program also will reduce trash and increase recycling. Walsh said municipalities usually see reduction in trash and an increase of 20 percent in recycling by going to an automated program. She added that seven trucks are much less expensive than maintaining and fueling 11 of them.

“Instead of having bags or garbage cans lining our streets, we will have 96 gallon carts,” Walsh said. “You can look down the street and see these carts instead of piles of garbage and animals won’t get into the garbage, which will be a definite improvement.”

The state of the art trucks feature three cameras looking at different angles and a “joystick” staff can use to operate the pickup arm, with an on-board computer for routing and reporting concerns.

Each cart has an ID tag assigned to an address. Therefore carts which are lost or stolen can be identified and returned to their owners. There also should be fewer disputes on whether garbage was picked up or not by a staff member as it will all be monitored via computer. There also are GPS units on each truck so if residents want to know when their trash will be collected, staff can identify where the trucks are and give prompt and accurate answers.

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