It Takes Two...Green & Blue!
An automated trash and single stream recycling collection program began citywide on October 5, 2009. It is efficient, user-friendly and has encouraged more curbside recycling participation. Newton's overall trash tonnage has decreased by 24% since we started the program and recycling tonnage has increased by 8%. The City now boasts a 54% City-wide recycling rate, up from 44% before the automated program began!
The City provides eligible residential units with 64-gallon carts (blue for trash and green for recycling). Trash and recycling collection vehicles use mechanical arms to empty the carts.
The City of Newton also made the change to Single Stream Recycling collections, or zero-sort recycling. Instead of separating paper from bottles and cans, all recyclable materials will be placed in the same container -- a 64-gallon green cart! All separation will now be done at the recycling processing plant. SIMPLE AS EVER…...JUST PUT IT ALL TOGETHER.
This automated collection was piloted in 4,100 Newton homes from November 2008 through April 2009 with great success. During the pilot, the City of Newton surveyed pilot participants and received a 45% response rate. There was a 90% satisfaction rate with automated collection and a 95% satisfaction rate for single stream recycling. As a result, Mayor Cohen recommended and the Board of Aldermen approved the citywide expansion.
Click here to see the postcard mailed to all households!
Click here to see the brochure delivered with the carts!
Advantages & Benefits
- Easier and safer—no carrying or lifting heavy trash
- Sturdy wheeled carts are easy to maneuver
- Capacity of the cart is equal to two barrels
- Tight lids on the carts keep rodents and pets out of waste
- Cleaner, healthier neighborhoods with no street litter
For the City:
- Improved collection efficiency
- Reduced collection costs; more funds for other programs
- Reduced injuries for the collection workers
- Increased recycling participation
- Reduced rodent problem
Why the switch?
The City of Newton enjoyed a favorable twenty-year manual trash collection contract, which ended June 30, 2008. During the tenure of that contract, new technology has changed trash collection methods to include automated and semi-automated trash collection. Automated collection allows for one person per truck and literally collects the trash barrel using a mechanical arm. Semi-automated still allows for two men per truck but the trash barrels are attached to an arm on the back of the truck manually and then collected.
While reviewing various methods of collection, visiting automated collection communities, and speaking to officials in other automated communities, the Solid Waste Commission determined that automation had many advantages:
- Minimizes cost to taxpayer
- Allows for efficient use of tax dollars for public safety, health, education, roads, etc.
- Lowest cost of all options considered, i.e. manual, in-house collection, semi-automated
- Encourages increased recycling
- Reduces volume/disposal costs as each additional ton recycled is a ton of disposal cost avoided
- Increased recycling currently generates additional revenue
- It is an equitable system by using a standard size container
- Attractive and improved curbside appearance of materials
- Discourages animal and trash scavengers
- Incorporates the most recent advancements in technology
- Allows for future improvements in the solid waste program
- It is a safer program for trash workers and efficient method of collection for the City
The size of the cart was selected for several reasons:
- In a survey conducted in 2007, 88% of the households could fit trash into this cart;
- The cart will encourage more recycling;
- The average household in Newton produces approximately 40 lbs of trash per week.
NOTE: The new blue carts will hold the same amount as two large standard trash bags (each holds 35 lbs) or five small kitchen trash bags (each holds 20 lbs) or two 35-gallon barrels (each holds 40 lbs)
- In the pilot survey, 82% of the participants stated that the 64-gallon carts held their weekly trash without a problem.
The automated collection system is relatively new to this area. However, communities across the country have been using this method for many years.