Trash barrels headed for dump

Traditional garbage barrels are headed for the dump as La Cañada Flintridge's two solid-waste haulers proceed with plans to convert to wheeled collection bins and environmentally friendly trucks.

Allied Waste Services and Athens Services will deliver new waste bins to customers starting Dec. 6, but educational efforts already are underway. On Sept. 16, the haulers hosted a public workshop at City Hall to inform residents about the changes. A second workshop is scheduled for Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. All customers are asked to make their preferences for cart sizes known to their trash hauler by Nov. 1.

"We believe that this is an enhancement for people," said David Davis, a solid-waste consultant who works with the city. "[The bins] are easier to handle. There is reduced spillage and less odor because they have hinged lids that fit tight, so they keep the dogs out and the odors in. And your neighborhood will look a little neater on collection day."

La Cañadans already dispose of recyclable materials in wheeled bins, but continue to use traditional garbage barrels for refuse and green waste. Last year, as service contracts with Allied Waste Services and Athens Services were set to expire, the city appointed a solid-waste subcommittee to assess solid-waste services.

Among the subcommittee's priorities was to explore the possibility of shifting to an exclusive contract with a single hauler. A survey of 300 residents, however, showed that most preferred to choose between two options.

"Of the people we asked, most of the people preferred to have multiple haulers," Davis said. "Each of the haulers got really high marks as far as customer satisfaction. When asked specifically about their haulers, 93% of the people in the case of both haulers said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with the service provided by their hauler."

In November, city-council members voted to renew contracts with both haulers and began negotiations to improve services. The new wheeled bins, which come in 32-, 64- and 96-gallon sizes, will increase diversion of green waste and recycling, reducing the amount of material headed for the landfill, Davis said.

Customers can have their old trash barrels removed by their solid-waste hauler. Costs for waste services, approximately $30 per household per month, will remain mostly flat, Davis said.

In addition, the switch to wheeled bins, which are lifted and emptied into the trash trucks by automation, will make trash collection more efficient, allowing Allied Waste to reduce the number of trucks in service in La Cañada from five trucks to three. Athens Service will reduce its number of trucks from three to two. In addition, all the vehicles will be fueled by compressed natural gas. The result will be less noise, traffic and pollution, Davis said.

"At the current time on any given day, there are about eight refuse trucks between the two haulers traveling around the city," Davis said. "Because we are going to an automated service, it is more efficient for the haulers, so they can reduce the number of trucks."

Customers who are at least 75 years old and the head of the household can subscribe to carryout service, wherein the driver walks up to the house to retrieve bins, free of charge. In addition, customers will be entitled to four on-call extra pickups and two on-call bulky-item pickups per calendar year.

The city has not abandoned the idea of switching to a single hauler, Davis said, and will revisit the issue 18 months prior to the expiration date of the current contracts, set for June 30, 2014.

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