Garbage haulers share thoughts on curbside service in Sioux Falls

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Four of the six garbage haulers that KELOLAND News was able to reach on Aug. 18, said they prefer curbside garbage collection over valet or house-side. One didn’t have a strong preference and the sixth said his business preferred valet service.

The city of Sioux Falls website lists 16 license garbage haulers. All haulers use the city’s landfill but may not provide service within the city limits.

The city allowed for curbside pickup of garbage during the COVID-19 pandemic from April of 2020 to April of 2021. The city has shared that curbside placement of garbage cans is not allowed, including on collection days.

The city is conducting a survey of city residents about the placement of garbage cans. The survey is on the city’s website. Currently, there is no proposal in front of the city council to change the existing ordinance on garbage container placement but the survey results will be presented to the mayor and council.

The city does not need to make curbside placement of garbage cans mandatory, said Cindy Neuroth of D & C Solid Waste.

“All we want is the option to be able to put it on the curb…,” Neuroth said.

Time, money and the environment

When a truck is idling while Waste Management provides valet service the truck is burning more fuel, Julie Ketchum of public affairs with Waste Management, said.

“That has a (negative) environmental impact,” Ketchum said.

If the city allowed for curbside pickup “We could cut those emissions in half,” she said.

RBS Sanitation provides service in Sioux Falls and in several neighboring communities where curbside pickup is the standard, said Tom McKnelly, the owner of RBS.

Curbside pickup allows for automated trucks to pick up the garbage cans, McKnelly said. In general curbside would mean fewer trucks, he said.

In terms of sustainability and the environment, fewer trucks are better, he said.

Johnn Cressman of Cressman Sanitation said that curbside pickup up during the pandemic mean fewer steps for his employees.

“They walked two-thirds less steps and that meant less time outside,” Cressman said.

Less time outside in hot, humid weather is good for employees, he said.

Neuroth said the ability to hire enough employees is also an issue in the industry and curbside service can help ease some of that.

Curbside pickup also reduces the overall time trucks spend on garbage routes, Cressman and Neuroth said.

“At the end of the day, we have to pay our bills,” Cressman said. “The longer trucks are out there, the longer it takes them. It all comes down to dollars and sense and trying to keep (customer) prices low.”

Neuroth said she couldn’t guarantee that customer prices would not increase with curbside use but “they would increase by less.”

For Waste Management reduction in costs means the company has more money to re-invest in fuel efficient vehicles, Ketchum said.

Marv’s Sanitary Service provides service to about 300 customers in eastern Sioux Falls said Tom Wilford.

Wilford said the company has smaller-style trucks so it can drive into a driveway to pickup cans by a house.

Cressman said several years ago some garbage companies in Sioux Falls had those smaller-style trucks that could enter driveways.

“Now we use trucks that are big enough that we can’t do that,” Cressman said.

Safety and the wind and the look

Cressman said safety is one reason he liked curbside pickup.

Walking some driveways can be risky in the winter if they are snow or ice-covered, Cressman said.

“Me, myself, I broke a leg because there was a light dusting of snow over ice…,” Cressman said.

Residents need to know that once a sanitation worker crosses into private property, the property owner assumes the risk if there is an injury, Neuroth said.

Ketchum said liability for residents is a concern “with a (sanitation worker) walking up a driveway.”

Although Nickolas Sweeney, a co-owner of Sweeney Sanitation said there are advantages to curbside pickup, his company is “happy to do it either way,” whether it’s curbside or valet.

Tom Wilford of Marv’s Sanitary Service says the company prefers valet service.

Garbage containers placed on the curbside can blow over in the wind and trash can be strewn around a street, Wilford said.

“Neighborhoods don’t look as nice when trash is (placed) on the street,” Wilford said.

While the city of Sioux Falls requires trash to be bagged and placed in the container, Wilford said, not all residents follow that rule and not all companies enforce it.

Questions 6-8 on the garbage can placement survey.

Josh Peterson of the Sioux Fall Environmental Office said concerns about tipped garbage cans and blowing trash are one reason the city has a no curbside placement ordinance.

Neuroth said the wind blows everywhere in the U.S. and many communities use curbside service. If garbage is bagged and can lids are faced opposite the wind, tipped cans and strewn trash should not be an issue, she said.

Waste Management is one of the largest providers of garbage services in the U.S.

“Litter has not been that big of a concern,” Ketchum said. “We do see carts turned over and on the rare occassion that would happen (WM) employees would likely pick up the litter around the cart.”

Sweeney said he told customers to not place their containers at the curb during very windy days.

Obstacles with curbside service

Peterson said getting garbage containers to the curb could be difficult for those with disabilities or the elderly.

There is also the possibility that on some busy streets such as Minnesota Avenue or Cliff Avenue, for example, cans could be incorrectly placed on sidewalks.

Neuroth, Cressman and Ketchum said all three of their companies work with those who may not be able to place their garbage containers at the curb.

“We are happy to valet the cans for them,” Sweeney said.

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