Council tables proposed collection plan

By Katie Pohlman


Columbia’s City Council tabled the Solid Waste Utility’s new plan for automated garbage collection until its next meeting on Sept. 17.The roll cart collection plan would involve a one-time expenditure of about $5 million. That cost would cover the purchase of 44,000 carts, which would be distributed to residents around the city, and 10 natural gas collection trucks. Currently, the money that would be used for this project is being saved until the council makes its final decision.In the proposed garbage collection plan, the use of plastic trash bags would be replaced with roll carts. Instead of being manually filled, the trucks would be filled automatically. These trucks would run on compressed natural gas and, according to a report the Public Works Department published earlier this year, any leftover gas would be used for buses and other public transportation.

The scheduling of garbage collection would remain the same if the new plan were put into place.

The Public Works Department stated in the report that residents would pay for the amount they throw away, making this new system no more expensive than the current one. The cost of the rolling cart that a resident could purchase would be based on the size of the cart.

Carts range from 32 to 96 gallons, with prices ranging from $10 to $23.75. Residents would also be able to purchase several carts if need be.

“Residents generating larger amounts of trash would pay more for a larger container or additional containers,” the report stated. “Individual households generating small amounts of trash would only have the base fee charge.”

When proposing the plan to the council, Solid Waste Utility Manager Richard Wieman said the city could save in labor and workers’ compensation costs because the new system would require fewer workers to handle the trash. This would save the city roughly $92,600 a year, not including the $379,000 the city usually spends on trash bags annually.

The Solid Waste Utility also believes that the new plan would save money for the city in the long run by using reusable trash containers instead of one-use trash bags. The Public Works Department’s report stated cities that switch to this collection policy also see an increase in correctly recycled materials.

“Cities with recycling programs that go from an unlimited quantity trash collection to a containerized system such as roll carts see an increase in the amount of recyclables placed at the curb for collection,” the report stated.

Cities such as Fulton and Jefferson City are using rolling carts instead of trash bags. The council is still debating whether to switch to the new system or stick with the current one. Many council members are asking to hear citizens’ opinions before they make their decision.

Columbia’s Solid Waste Services completed a survey in September, which found that citizens were almost evenly split over the system they preferred. Of those surveyed, 49.5 percent were in favor of switching to rolling carts, while 50.5 percent preferred to keep the trash bags system.

If the council decides to switch to the new rolling cart system of collection, the carts and trucks could be in use by Oct. 1 at the earliest.

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