City of Waukesha will have new system for garbage, recycling pickup in 2015

Christopher Kuhagen
Dustin Nolan, city of Waukesha recycling & solid waste coordinator, talks about the new recycling carts that are part of a new automated system. All recyclable materials will now be put into one container and don't have to be separated.
Published on: 7/28/2014

More cost effective. More efficient. A cleaner option for the environment.

Fred Abadi, the city's director of public works, said all are reasons for the city to switch to a new system in which its recycling and trash is picked up. Gone will be the days of garbage men getting out of the truck, picking up the trash and recycling bins and throwing them in the truck.

"There are benefits all across the board," Abadi said.

Starting in early 2015, the city will begin utilizing an automated system, in which the garbage and recycling carts will be picked up by a device attached to the vehicle, which will flip over the carts. The "arm" attached to the truck will then return the cart to the same spot on the ground.

With this new system, residents will get new garbage and recycling carts. The recycling bins residents have been using will no longer be used.

Garbage outside of the garbage cart will not be accepted — all garbage must be inside the cart. The city encourages people to put trash in bags inside the cart.

Abadi said the city reviewed other communities, many in Milwaukee County, that already utilize an automated system and continued to recognize the benefits.

A single sort

Besides the change in which trash and recycling will be picked up, the city is going to a "single sort" system for recycling. Dustin Nolan, city of Waukesha recycling and solid waste coordinator, said this means residents will put all recyclable materials in one container. In the past, residents had to separate materials.

With a single stream system, Abadi and Nolan said they hope it will encourage more recycling, which could then result in the city's garbage costs going down.

"It will be easier to recycle," Abadi said.

Abadi said garbage will continue to be picked up weekly and recycling every other week.

Vendor and timeline

The city's contract with its current vendor, Advanced Disposal, expires at the end of the year but Nolan said the company was ranked No. 1 among four vendors that submitted proposals.

The city is expected to finish negotiating soon, and the Board of Public Works could approve a contract at its Aug. 7 meeting. It would then go before the Common Council later in August.

If the contract is approved, residents would begin receiving the new carts, which will have wheels on the bottom, later this fall. The carts have a lid as well as a handle to drag down to the curb. The largest cart will be 96 gallons, but residents can opt for a smaller-size cart.

Nolan said his preference is that residents choose the largest recycling cart and a smaller garbage cart.

"I'd love to see more go in recycling," Nolan said.

County-led initiative

The new containers and overall change in trash and recycling pickup is all part of a new county recycling program.

At its July 22 meeting, the county board approved an intergovernmental agreement between Waukesha County and municipalities for recycling containers and material hauling.

Twenty-five municipalities are part of the program, which will compensate them for the cost of the new recycling containers and for a system of covering the cost of hauling to a joint facility in the Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee.

Dale Shaver, director of Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use, said that, by entering into this agreement, the county projects to save nearly $1.9 million over seven years.

Shaver said a joint facility has been analyzed by a team at the county for seven years. The study showed that private hauling companies desire to collect recyclables in a single-stream versus the current county system, which has a dual stream that separates paper and cardboard from other materials.

Obsolete facility

According to a memo on Waukesha County's recycling program, modifications would need to be made to the Waukesha County Recycling Facility, 220 S. Prairie Ave., to accommodate the single stream material.

"Unfortunately, the existing site was too small and the return on investment for the equipment to process the anticipated 27,000 tons was over 50 years, making the change cost prohibitive," the memo said.

After Waukesha County realized that the city of Milwaukee was in an identical situation, a collaboration was formed to combine tonnage for processing.

"Combining tonnage with the city of Milwaukee to process an anticipated 60,000 tons changed the return on investment from 58 years to less than 15 years," the memo said.

A new facility, Shaver said, will result in the Waukesha County Material Recycling Facility closing.

Earlier this spring, Waukesha County and the city of Milwaukee approved contracts with ReCommunity to operate the facility. Shaver added that under this model, the city of Milwaukee and Waukesha County would receive 80 percent of the revenue generated from the sale of the recycled material in exchange for paying the private vendor for processing and marketing the material.