As Lamar County officials continue to roll out automated trash pickup throughout the county, the Lamar County Board of Supervisors recently approved the advertisement and reverse bids for approximately 10,000 garbage cans to be compatible with new side-arm garbage trucks.
The measure was discussed at the April 22 board meeting, where supervisors voted 5-0 to accept the measure.
“We currently have two automated side-arm garbage trucks in service now in the county, and we have a third one that is now here and is on the ground,” county administrator Jody Waits said. “These cans are on those routes, so in order to have a side-arm automated garbage truck, you have to have these garbage cans that work alongside with it.
“We’re in the process of obtaining the remainder of the fleet, so there’s four more trucks that need to be ordered. So we need to get the cans ahead of the trucks, so we can get them distributed to the citizens, and then once those trucks arrive and are ready to go on the routes, the cans will be there ready for them.”
The automated trucks cost the county approximately $220,000 each, and the cans run about $52 each. However, prices vary according to suppliers and materials.
“It’s a significant number when you buy 10,000 cans; that can be $500,000 or $600,000,” Waits said. “But that’s an investment, because those cans will last 10, 15 years.
“That, along with the price of the trucks, pay for themselves over time, because through attrition we are able to do away with the two people on the back of the trucks. Our worker comp claims are less, and the whole system functions more efficiently with the side-arm automated trucks.”
Waits said another reason for the increased efficiency is the fact that the automated trucks can run routes faster than the manned trucks.
“The truck never gets tired, and the two guys on the back do,” he said. “Weather affects them, and it’s dangerous for them to be on the back during inclement weather, and that can slow them down.
“It’s just much more efficient to have an automated truck running a route.”
The automated trucks arrived in the county in late 2018, shortly before supervisors approved a new ordinance that discontinued garbage pickup at certain duplexes in the county. Under that ordinance, owners of those properties are required to pay for their own garbage disposal, including renting individual Dumpsters for duplexes that are adjacent to other multi-family residences.
Prior to that, the county handled garbage pickup at multi-family housing units, but supervisors voted to accept the new ordinance after approving the automated trucks.
Waits said despite the pushback from some property owners, the goal of the ordinance was to clean up some multi-family housing units that had become problematic around the county. He said the county’s former method of pickup did help to clean up the county, but it could become problematic for rear-loading garbage trucks – or even an automated system – to pick up hundreds of garbage cans in one location.
“We’ve got large apartment complexes and duplex developments that have a large amount of trash cans around them, and the trash is spilled everywhere and all over the streets,” Waits said in a previous story. “It just became a nuisance, so the board passed the ordinance.
“With all those cans sitting there, it’s more apt for trash to get everywhere. So most communities, most counties, most cities, require most commercial and multi-family housing to provide their own sanitation by way of Dumpsters – it’s a cleaner, better way to do it.”