Bristol says bins will be big but not blue

Bristol says some of its 18,000 new trash and recycling carts will be smaller, and they all will be forest green

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 11/21/19

Like many municipalities across the region, Bristol will seen be transitioning to a more automated trash pickup system, currently planned to launch in the spring of 2020. With existing trash trucks …

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Bristol says bins will be big but not blue

Bristol says some of its 18,000 new trash and recycling carts will be smaller, and they all will be forest green

Posted

Like many municipalities across the region, Bristol will seen be transitioning to a more automated trash pickup system, currently planned to launch in the spring of 2020. With existing trash trucks reaching the end of their life expectancy, town leaders opted to switch to the automated system, which they hope will save on personnel costs both in terms of salary (the new trash trucks can be operated by one person) as well as worker’s compensation costs.

“They are by far the most injured town employees,” said Bristol Department of Public Works Director Kevin McBride. “They make about 2,000 stops every day, picking up two or three barrels at each, some as heavy as 50 pounds or more.”

At a recent Bristol Town Council meeting, Town Administrator Steven Contente attached a dollar figure to those claims, noting that in the past five years alonec, there have been 43 claims by trash collection employees, totaling $310,000 in costs. “Automation should greatly reduce these numbers,” said Mr. Contente.

About 18,000 new bins

The standard, and the foundation of Bristol’s plan, is the distribution of two, 96-gallon receptacles to homes and businesses that want them, about 9,000 of each across town. This has raised some alarm among people who, for reasons ranging from need, to storage, to maneuverability, claim that 96-gallon carts are way too big, especially when 64 and even 35-gallon options exist.

Town officials want residents to know they will have options.

“We aren’t trying to make things difficult for residents,” said Mr. McBride. “We’re going to work with them on that.”

The 96-gallon containers have been proposed as the default size based on information from the waste management company, as well as from other communities that have already rolled out this program. “We aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel,” said Mr. Contente. “We are looking closely at what is working in other communities.”

One issue that has arisen in other communities where smaller carts were used, was that people were running out of space in their trash receptacles, and putting trash in recycling bins, contaminating the recycling.

“We are trying to encourage recycling and reduce the solid waste we send to the landfill,” said Mr. McBride. “If trash is mixed into the recycling, we will pay a fine and incur tipping costs” for the contaminated recycling, effectively paying twice.

“We are listening to residents’ concerns,” said Mr. Contente. “We also need to be sure we do not contaminate our recycling. We want people to have enough space for all their trash in a single bin.”

Smaller sizes, softer colors

For residents who want them, the town does intend to make 64-gallon containers available. They are also open to ordering the 35-gallon size at a later date if there is a need for that, but officials stress that size is really quite small.

Officials also plan to order bins in forest green; trash bins will have green lids, and recycling cart lids will be light blue.

One thing that officials continue to stress is that nothing has been set in stone, and adjustments can and may be made to the system, including after roll out. Mr. Contente says there has been some discussion about possibly staggering recycling pickups, as come communities do, but like the rest of the plan, nothing is confirmed to date.

Residents seeking information should be assured that information will be available, in this newspaper and through the town, as soon as it is available and practical to do so. The new trucks have not yet been delivered, so a comprehensive public education program would be premature at this point, but will be forthcoming after the new year.

“We plan to do a full roll out of the plan once we have a complete and detailed plan that can be clearly articulated to the public,” said Mr. McBride in a letter to a concerned resident which was copied to town officials and this newspaper. “We have been working closely with our vendor and others that have implemented automation in recent years to ensure we can answer any questions our residents may have relative to the pending trash and recycling collection changes. We have not quite reached that point yet, but I anticipate we will shortly.”

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