Tacoma City Council to discuss garbage collection pilot project

Tacoma City Council is scheduled to be briefed on a project that would implement every-other-week garbage collection citywide during its study session at noon on Tues., May 8.

Tacoma’s solid waste utility conducted a six-month pilot program between July 20, 2011 through Feb. 15, 2012, that included one collection route in the North on Monday and a second in the South on Wednesday to determine the benefits and challenges of every-other-week garbage collection. In January, Public Works staffed briefed city council’s environment and public works committee on the results of the pilot project.

“The results of the [pilot project] indicate that significant cost savings and an increase in waste diversion can be realized by switching to [every-other-week] garbage collection service,” said Tacoma Public Works Director Richard McKinley in an April 25 memo to City Manager T. C. Broadnax.

According to McKinley and Public Works staff, switching to an every-other-week program could reduce the cost of the residential garbage collection program by between $900,000 and $1.3 million annually. Other benefits include increasing the range of container choices on the lower volume garbage containers while maintaining automated collection capability; and offering the ability to reduce garbage, increase recycling and reduce the fuel used to collect garbage by between 20 percent and 40 percent, resulting in an increase in resource conservation and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

But implementing the program could cost between $1.5 million and $2.1 million, noted McKinley. “As a majority of our customers’ container sizes would need to be changed, the logistics of that exchange project will be a very large temporary operation,” wrote McKinley. “In addition, performing ‘knock and talks’ across our customer base and managing accounts will be very labor intensive.”

Still, McKinley and Public Works staff recommend implementing every-other-week garbage collection in a phased manner beginning next year. “The long-term cost savings, increased choices to our customers, and environmental considerations are all very strong arguments for program implementation,” wrote McKinley.

More information about the project is online at http://www.cityoftacoma.org/Page.aspx?hid=16803 .

City Council will not take public comment during the study session Tuesday, which will be held in the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St., Room 16. Audio from the session will be broadcast live on TV Tacoma and on http://www.tvtacoma.com . On-demand audio archives are available on the Web within 24 hours of the meeting at http://www.tvtacoma.com .