City of Greenville
According to Mildred Lee, solid waste and recycling manager for the public works department of the City of Greenville, SC, specialty collections comprise a small percentage of its overall curbside collection program. Per city ordinance, a limited amount of oversized items can be placed at the curb for collection on the customer’s regular collection day, as long as the customer calls the office ahead of time to schedule it.
“In our experience, limiting the amount of oversized items that can be placed at the curb has been an effective strategy,” says Lee. “We permit the disposal of the equivalent of one room of oversized items at the curb. Beyond that, the customer is responsible for the disposal of any additional items.”
In the past, the City used “rear loader” garbage trucks for specialty collections. However, rising workers’ compensation costs and lost time from work due to employees’ handling these items prompted a change. “We now utilize a PAC-MAC clam truck ‘knuckle boom’ loader for specialty collection service,” she says. “Reducing the number of staff needed to provide the service, and a ‘hands off’ approach are proving to be successful strategies.”
One of the most common issues the City faces relates to customers placing oversized items at the curb without scheduling with the City ahead of time. Another is oversized items being illegally dumped. A third is customers placing construction and demolition waste, which the city does not collect, per city ordinance, at the curb.
How does the department deal with these problems? “Cart tags identifying infractions are left on customer homes, and efforts are taken to help residents get it right,” says Lee. “Educating the public regarding acceptable municipal solid waste items per our curbside collection program through social media outlets, the City’s website, cart tags, and site visits are good utilization tools.”
“Word of mouth” is also helpful. However, when outreach efforts fail for items contrary to the City’s solid waste programs, the Public Works department relies on the City’s Code Enforcement Division for compliance. “In the future, as regards the program as a whole, we are looking at different scenarios, including the possibility of moving to a fee-based system for specialty collections,” says Lee.
City of Auburn
The City of Auburn, AL, (population 62,000) services about 14,500 residential customers, which consist primarily of single-family detached homes, duplexes, and townhouses, as well as about 200 small commercial customers (insurance companies, medical offices, law offices, and such). “Apartments, multiplexes, industry, and large commercial properties in the City are serviced by private haulers,” says Timothy Woody, environmental services director for the City.
How big of an issue is oversize collections? Being that Auburn is a college town, it’s a pretty big deal. “We allow residents to place bulky items and yard waste at curbside for collection each week, where we collect household garbage, bulky items, yard waste, and recycling on a weekly basis,” says Woody. Bulky/yard waste volumes are limited to five cubic yards per week per residence. In most areas, regardless of the time of year, material is placed out according to policy.
The City also currently offers a Trash Amnesty Week each spring, when residents can place out as much bulky/yard waste as they would like during the week. “This is a ‘spring cleanup,’ if you will,” he says. There is no extra charge for this. However, the City typically charges $50 per one-half trailer load and $100 per trailer load/return trip for oversized debris piles.
“We are looking at expanding this program next year to last a longer period of time—an entire month—to facilitate then needs of the growing community and to help promote neighborhood cleaning and aesthetics,” says Woody.
In addition, for the last few years, Woody’s department has been working with other City departments to do a “neighborhood cleanup project” each year. “Working with Codes Enforcement, Public Works, Public Safety-Fire Division, and Parks & Recreation, we promote a cleanup project in neighborhoods where we collect bulky and yard waste generated from property cleanups, identify code-related issues, and work with property owners to bring things up to code,” he says.
This also involves painting fire hydrants, repairing sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and asphalt. It also involves planting trees, mowing grass, sweeping streets, trimming trees, upgrading street signs, etc.
In terms of equipment, for large items, the department has found that knuckle boom loaders tend to work best, with the assistance of a tow truck. The Ramer 3500 (manufactured by Ramer Manufacturing at Ramer, AL) knuckle boom loader, with a 20-cubic-yard trailer attached, will collect items from residences and then, when loaded, the two truck will switch out an empty trailer with the loader and haul the full trailer to the recycling/disposal site.
However, despite its multiple efforts to collect large waste items, the City does face two large challenges. One is the improper placement of material for collection, such as material placed in the street, on sidewalks, or too close to utilities. The other is that, when it comes to end-of-semester at Auburn University, residents tend to place out large volumes of material beyond the 5-cubic-yard limit, scattered debris, and such.
How did the department attempt to deal with these problems? “A number of years ago, we attempted to place roll-off containers in neighborhoods where the majority of residents were students, for use by the students who were moving out at the end of the Auburn University semester,” he says.
However, this didn’t work out as planned. Residents would place material on the ground around the container, instead of in the container, even when the container was not full. This opened the door to scavengers and other problems that created a somewhat not-so-clean environment. “Needless to say, we scrapped that idea,” he says.
These days, education is the key, as well as prompt follow-up when problems are identified. Whenever a new resident moves into a home, they make contact with the City to initiate solid waste collection services. “We use that opportunity to provide information about all of our programs, which emphasizes bulky and yard waste collection guidelines, along with garbage and recycling,” says Woody. “After that, if and when we identify a problem, our collection personnel will leave hang-tags notifying the resident about a problem and how to remedy it in order for prompt collection to occur.”
Northeast Indiana Solid Waste District
Northeast Indiana Solid Waste District operates a multi-county solid waste district, consisting of four rural northeast Indiana counties. “Our population density is only about 106 people per square mile, with a total population of about 160,000,” says Steven Christman, executive director. The largest city in the District is Auburn, which only has a population of about 12,000.
“For years, we have operated rural recycling drop-off locations,” he says. “We do a lot of composting and have composting facilities, and people can deliver to those facilities.”
However, for large items, spring cleanups were—and still are—very popular in small towns not only in the District, but also in the state as a whole. Towns that contract with private sector service providers generally arrange for the contract to include at least one spring cleanup.
“Everyone sits everything out on the curb on a given day, including furniture, appliances, et cetera, to be picked up by the vendors,” says Christman. “However, the costs are getting higher and higher for the vendors to provide that,” he says. “As a result, a lot of this demand has been coming our way.”
In fact, large items have come onto the District’s radar screen in the last five years or so. “For example, we get more and more inquiries along the lines of, ‘Can you come and get my couch?’, or ‘What do I do with this old bed?'”
In addition, the District is experiencing more and more dumping of large items at its 24/7 recycling drop-off centers, which are unmanned. So, for the last four or five years, the District has begun work on solid waste convenience centers.
“In talking with my SWANA counterparts, I have learned that they have built a number of these in other states, too,” he says. “Ours are being built with open-top retaining walls, as well as roll-offs with canopies. We also use backhoes, which allow us to crush and push-in bulky items into the roll-offs for safe transport. We also occasionally use some front-end loaders, which are located at our nearby recycling centers, because they’re handy.”
The District opened two of these convenience centers at the end of July, and is charging fees for this to help offset the costs of building these convenience centers. “We will probably put in two more after that,” he says. “Of course, these are available to residents only. We don’t want these to become solid waste transfer stations.” This allows people to get rid of large items any day of the year, instead of just once a year during spring cleanup.
Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority
While a lot of municipalities and waste management districts struggle with large items such as couches and mattresses, Lancaster County (PA) Solid Waste Management Authority doesn’t even bat an eye at these items. It focuses its attention on even larger items, such as heavy machinery, RVs, and boats.
“We don’t do any collections, so private haulers bring waste to our various facilities, depending on the type of material,” says Bob Zorbaugh, chief operating officer. “We have two waste energy plants, a transfer station, and a landfill.”
The Authority doesn’t even consider things like mattresses, couches, and other furniture to be bulky, because haulers typically put those items in rear-load trucks, which crush it. “So, when they haul it to the landfill, it’s not an issue, because it is already crushed,” he says. “Sometimes, it is taken to one of our waste energy plants.”
Residents also bring things like sofas and other furniture to the Authority’s facilities, and it can handle that easily in its compactor. “In fact, one growing trend we have been seeing is residents wanting to deliver large items to us directly,” says Zorbaugh. “Often, they will rent pickup trucks or utility trailers to bring stuff to our facilities.”
The Authority does have a different process for appliances such as refrigerators and freezers. Residents contact the hauler or municipality, because they often need a special tag from the municipality for freon-containing white goods. “We require that white goods unloaded at a separate area,” he says. “If they contain Freon, our staff removes the Freon, and we then run the appliance, along with other non-Freon-containing white goods, through a compactor, load them onto a trailer, and then take them to a metal recycling facility, which pays us $70 a ton.”
The Authority also has a “non-processable oversize” category, which is reserved for items that can’t be handled at its waste energy facilities, because it can’t be burned or is too large. “Examples are boats and RVs, which we compact with our compactor.”
A bigger challenge the Authority faces is heavy industrial machinery with a lot of metal. Because it can’t be compacted, and it is too large, the Authority excavates a trench, buries the items, and then fill over it with waste.
The keys to success to manage so many types of bulky waste? “One key is to have different areas to segregate various items, such as items that are too large, items with Freon, items that can’t be crushed, et cetera,” says Zorbaugh. “It is also important to educate staff on what to look for, such as to recognize items that might contain freon.” The Authority also does a lot of education of haulers and customers, using material on its website, as well as published materials that it distributes at community events.
Monterey Regional Waste Management District
While most regional waste management districts engage in activities that cost money, Monterey (CA) Regional Waste Management District engages in these activities, but is also able to reverse the process. Last year, it earned almost one million dollars as part of an innovative program, called Last Chance Mercantile.
The contracts that exist with the jurisdictions have provisions for bulky item collection. These collections are offered three times a year, with up to four bulky items at a time in each collection, as long as the items don’t contain hazardous materials. Items can include appliances, furniture, etc.
“We make many of these items available in our second-hand store, called Last Chance Mercantile,” says Tim Flanagan, general manager. Last Chance Mercantile is a resale store that has been in operation since 1991.
“It started out as an auction that became so successful that it was scheduled from once a quarter auction to once a month, then to an existing onsite building, and, since 1991, in a separate building that we built for it,” he says.
The store is located in front of the scales and adjacent to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at the Monterey Regional Landfill. “The store occupies about 8,000 square feet with a two-acre paved yard for salvaged lumber, building materials, landscaping supplies, and a wide range of durable goods,” says Jeff Lindenthal, director of communications and sustainability. “While many items come directly from residents, others are the result of the keen eyes of District personnel, who salvage the items from the Material Recovery Landfill, where self-haul and commercial loads are tipped.”
In fact, in 2015, over 800 tons of reusable goods were retrieved from trash and delivered to Last Chance for sale and reuse.
Most of the appliances that show up to the District facilities are not in working order. “However, if we find some that are, we make these available for sale in the store,” says Flanagan.
If they are not in working condition, they are diverted to a special area, and they are sold to a recycling contractor. In addition, for items with freon, such as refrigerators and freezers, a third-party contractor evacuates the oil and freon before they are recycled.
Of course, mattresses cannot be resold. As a result, the District sends these to a mattress recycler, which deconstructs them and makes use of the material—the stuffing, the wood, and the metal.
To make sure as many people as possible know about Last Chance Mercantile, the District advertises it via social media, including a Facebook page, where it advertises new, interesting, and higher-value items that come in.
“We also publicize the store in traditional media outlets,” says Flanagan.
Given that products are more affordable than WalMart and even Goodwill, the store had 67,000 customers last year and grossed over $850,000 in sales.
Oversize Waste Equipment
“Bulk waste has been our main business for over 30 years,” says Sam Petersen, vice president of Petersen Industries. “We have introduced close to a dozen new models over the years, including two new offerings in 2016.”
However, the company’s TL-2 Lightning Loader and dump body combination has been its number one seller for decades. “This was the pioneer unit for municipal bulk waste collection,” he says. “We were approached by the City of Lakeland, Florida, in the early 1970s, to customize one of our agricultural products to be used for picking up bulk waste. The start was to change the attachment to a clamshell bucket, and change the body to a more standard dump body design.”
The system requires only one operator and one piece of equipment, which is not only economical, but also safe. That is, the configuration eliminates traffic hazards, physical lifting injuries, and the risk of physically touching waste (such as needle sticks and bedbugs).
The two new models for 2016 are the Route Assistant, an option for the TL-3 unit that incorporates a side-loading trough to the front of the dump body; and the Atlas Lightning Loader, the company’s longest-reaching and heaviest lifting unit to date, featuring a 25-footboom with 360-degree continuous rotation and the ability to lift over 9,000 pounds.