The “trash talking” about shifting all garbage collection to an every-other-week cycle is over. It’s a done deal. The timing of which neighborhoods make the change, however, is still being worked out. Tacoma City Council has approved a resolution that begins the phasing in of an every-other-week garbage collection program starting in early 2013. The change from weekly to bimonthly trash collection will reduce the cost of the residential garbage collection by as much as $1.3 million per year and will also reduce the “carbon footprint” of refuse collection by some 40 percent by cutting the amount of time the diesel trucks are running around the city. While the change will save money, residents won’t see lower trash rates since the savings will be used to control costs and limit future increases.
The pilot group of 1,370 households that already have been on a every-other-week garbage collection schedule since mid 2011 will simply continue while about two dozen temporary workers will be part of a city-wide outreach campaign to inform the weekly collection customers about the pending switch in their areas. “The first group for the citywide implementation will happen in March 2013,” said Solid Waste Management Community Relations official Michelle Warmuth. “The staggered implementation citywide will take up to 10 months to reach all single-family homes. We’re still finalizing the exact schedule. I’m hoping to have details by the end of this month or early January.” The move will mean swapping out the current bins for larger ones as well as “knock and talks” with customers. Customers with 20-gallon bins will receive 45-gallon ones, while 30-gallon customers will receive 60-gallon bins. Under the plan garbage and recycling will be collected one week while yard and food waste will be collected the following week. Because trash will be sitting out longer, residents are advised to tie bags closed and keep bin lids on securely and double bag particularly smelly items such as diapers, pet waste and other odorous materials. In other trash news, the Northwest Construction Consumer Council honored Tacoma Solid Waste Management with the 2012 Best Public Project Under $10 Million award for its administration and fleet maintenance building remodel project.
Located at the Tacoma Landfill, the project upgraded the aging and undersized facilities for $6.8 million in construction costs. Accommodating 180 employees, the adjoining buildings, totaling 24,500 square feet, are nearly double the old size. They include increased office, meeting and storage space and up-to-date phone and network equipment. The fleet maintenance building was upgraded with a new fluid distribution system, two additional vehicle bays, new lighting and a new roof. “We were bursting at the seams in our old building,” said Environmental Services Interim Director Mike Slevin. “In addition to increasing the size, we modernized the facilities making them safer, healthier and more operationally efficient. This facility, along with our new Recovery & Transfer Center, is designed to serve our customers for the next 30 years.” Designed to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver rating, the administration and fleet maintenance buildings feature many environmentally-friendly elements, including the use of daylighting and lighting controls, captured rainwater, solar hydronic pre-heating, low-VOC emitting materials and the recycling of 93 percent of construction waste.