New refuse carts coming; pickup starts April 1

Starting Monday, borough residents should be on the lookout for delivery of their new trash and organic waste carts.

Staff can’t guarantee which day the carts will arrive at each residence, but the contracted vendor will drop off at each a 35-, 65- or 95-gallon trash cart with wheels and lid, as well as a second cart for organic waste, if residents opted into that program.

Public Works staff surveyed residents on which size carts they wanted. For those who didn’t reply, two 65-gallon carts will be delivered. Once the service kicks off April 1, residents will have a chance later this spring to swap for different sizes if needed.

The program change comes after a pilot food waste collection program started in January 2010. The voluntary program now will become boroughwide and allow residents to place food scraps, coffee grounds, used paper towels and more at the curb if they wish.

Public Works Director Mark Whitfield said nearly 2,300 of 3,400 resident customers chose cart sizes already. He said he knows some residents will say they didn’t know about the refuse changes.

“We tried, to the best of our ability, to get the word out,” he said.

Collecting the materials will be two new automated trucks, which arrived in November. They have arms that will pick up and dump the carts, reducing the strain on workers.

“We’ve only used it for training purposes,” Whitfield said. “It hasn’t gone out every week.”

Whitfield predicted there may be a few long days at the beginning of the switch but that, after looking at other communities using the pickup method, workers will become faster and more proficient in the first six months.

Residents should have received postcards from the borough telling them about the cart delivery and notifying those who will see a change in their pickup day. With a more efficient system, pickup will take place only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. That means College Heights and Highlands residents will see a change in their collection days.

Bulk item and brush collection will take place on Mondays, and Public Services Manager Ed Holmes said residents should still call to schedule those pickups, so trucks don’t have to scour every street.

When the carts arrive, Holmes said residents will receive an additional packet of information, including instructions for putting out the carts, a holiday schedule for the rest of 2013 and ideas for recycling their old garbage cans.

“We’re ready to start this new chapter,” Holmes said, presenting information to the Borough Council last week. “There are still challenges and we recognize that.”

Along with educating customers, those include streamlining some areas in the borough where double collection has taken place. Whitfield said the borough has collected both in the street and the alley in some areas and, if a majority put their trash at the street curb, staff have asked all residents to begin doing so.

He said if residents all agree to put their carts in the alley, and that alley is maintained to borough standards, collection there can continue.

“Hill Alley runs between Fairmount and Prospect,” Holmes said. “All of the properties on both sides bring their materials to the alley, and we will continue to collect from there.”

Those with further questions can contact the Public Works Department at 234-7140.