As mayor, I want to get behind measures that allow us to deliver our first-class city services even better.
Automated garbage collection is one of those opportunities.
Starting in 2015 — one pickup day at time — we’ll be rolling out this new approach in South Milwaukee. Here is what it means …
When your day is changed over, your garbage will be picked up only in city-provided 95-gallon brown cans, and using our trucks’ automatic arms. We already have the trucks to do this. As for the carts, that will be a focus in the months ahead.
For those who don’t have the carts, we will provide you one, at city expense, ahead of that day’s changeover. Look for a mailing with more information ahead of your rollout date, with more details on how to get a cart and where to put it
If you already have a brown cart from the city, great. Keep it. You can take a second one or tell us not to leave one for you.
Here is the ordinance the South Milwaukee City Council passed in late November. It includes quite a bit of detail necessary to execute this — including instructions as to where carts will eventually have to placed as we begin automated collection. (Note: The location requirements may be a big change for those folks with alleys, for example.)
We will roll this out in phases starting this April. Stay tuned for more information as it gets closer.
While it may take some time to get used to the change, it is one many other communities have instituted. And the benefits are real.
- Efficiency: Automating the pickup process will speed up the work significantly, perhaps by as much as 50%. How? Currently, for homes that do not already have brown carts, the driver of the garbage truck stops the truck at each location, parks the truck, gets out, throws the trash into the back of the truck, and gets back in the truck. Going forward, once the new process comes to your neighborhood, the driver will stop the truck, and, from his seat, extend an automatic arm that grabs the cart, lifts it and throws the garbage into the truck. The arm then places the can back where it was. And on to the next house the truck goes. This saves quite a few seconds — which add up when you are talking about hundreds of collections per day. These saved minutes (hours, really) will free up our people to do other work that might be put off, or skipped entirely.
- Safety: This is a much safer process for our city crews, and reduces the risk of injury that goes with lifting heavy cans.
- Cleanliness: This will also make for a cleaner city on garbage days. No longer will you see bags of garbage and other loose items on the sides of our roads and alleys — some ripped open and strewn about by scavenging animals.
In other words, I see this as a big win, an example of how there is always the potential to take a fresh look at the services we provide and ask, “How can we do them better?”
My ask: Please be patient as we roll this out. As I wrote, this will not happen overnight, and it won’t come without some issues I’m sure. But we will keep the lines of communication open and do our best to make this as seamless a transition as possible.