New trash and recycling carts delivered to Bloomington houses as city adopts "Sanitation Modernization"


City of Bloomington trash and recycling bins sit behind Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. The Sustainability Action Plan, expected to be finalized this month, outlines the city’s long-term goals, short-term priorities, responsible parties, timelines and cost estimates related to the city’s sustainability efforts for the next five years.  Andrew Williams

Bloomington's implementation of the Sanitation Modernization system beginning Oct. 2 could change the face of solid waste and recycling collection in the city. 

This new system is being adopted in an effort to phase out outdated equipment and methods for sanitation services.

City residents, including students living in off-campus houses, should have received or will be receiving new solid waste and recycling carts by Thursday, according to the city website. 

Mary Catherine Carmichael, Bloomington communications director, said residents were previously required to purchase stickers to place on the trash and recycling cans they placed outside for collection. Since the stickers are no longer necessary, residents can get refunds for unused stickers, according to the city website. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the recordable incidence rate for nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in the waste management industry is about was 4.5 per 100 workers in 2015. 

Carmichael said the manual labor demanded of sanitation workers in the old system led to injuries and high worker's compensation costs in Bloomington.

Carmichael said the new program will increase operational efficiency and employee safety. All the carts that residents receive are uniform, lidded gray for solid waste and yellow for recyclables. In addition, workers will now use new trucks to do the heavy lifting.

The current system has also required residents to separate their recycling materials. The new program, however, allows for “single-stream recycling,” which means that all types of recyclable material can be placed in the same container. 

Carmichael said this feature, along with weekly rather than biweekly recycling pick up, will encourage people to recycle more. Additionally, according to the city website, new trucks and route optimization are expected to cut down on fuel costs. 

Adam Wason, director of public works of Bloomington, said the new carts are Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip enabled. This technology is currently being used to identify each cart with its associated address. It will also provide data on usage and recycling participation rates. 

Residents may use old trash cans for yard waste—which will still be collected biweekly—or leave them outside at the curb to be picked up by sanitation workers. They may also request refunds for purchased trash or yard waste stickers. 

If health conditions prevent them from rolling the carts themselves, residents can enlist the help of the sanitation workers to do so. They should call and inform Sanitation Services at 812-349-3443. 

Wason said residents should remember to close the lids on the carts and store them away after collection. The delivered carts include informational packets.

“We’re moving from an outdated 1950s model of sanitation service delivery to a modern-day, technologically advanced approach, which provides higher levels of customer service as well as higher levels of worker safety,” Wason said.

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