Dear Decaturish – Once a week garbage service wasn’t so bad
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We lived in town for several years and are in Dunwoody right now, but keep up with your blog. I read your story on garbage services becoming one day per week. We were one of the families in DeKalb in 2014 that did the test service for garbage pick-up once a week and it works well, with a few exceptions. Overall, it does reduce our carbon footprint and save the county money, which we agree with. We do much more recycling and composting and have a small family, so never really needed twice a week service anyway and were often surprised they offered that (Larger families don’t necessarily agree with my opinion).
The biggest issue we dealt with is that DeKalb Sanitation forced us (and still do) to use massive 65-gallon green trash cans that weigh a lot even without trash. Neighbors who are older or have a disability have voiced they have a very hard time moving them to and from the curb. And when I called to voice this issue directly to the sanitation department during the pilot period, DeKalb said they had heard that complaint often. They said they were looking at other options, but that there are no options for alternative sizes at this time because the trucks are equipped with an arm that picks up the cans. Since this is a service taxpayers pay for, it seems there should be an alternative option for those who have a disability or are unable to maneuver the hefty cans. I often wonder if this even violates a disability law somewhere.
The other thing we’ve seen is that, when there aren’t enough specially-equipped trucks with lifting arms, they send out regular trucks with no lifting arms and the guys have to remove the bags from the cans by hand because the cans are too heavy to otherwise lift. Sometimes they will try to lift them with a two-man team. It doesn’t seem fair to them. If they’re going to use the cans that are too heavy for a human to lift, every one of those trucks they use should be properly equipped with an arm to lift the cans.
The last (and more minor) issue is that they run all the two to three individual trucks on the same day – including recycling, refuse, and trash – so it’s a lot of work for the homeowner to drag everything to the curb on the same day. And since they run two to three different trucks during the same day (one for each type of disposal: recycling, refuse, and garbage/trash), it seems it would make more sense to the constituents to have it over the course of two days during the week. But again, that is very minor in comparison to the weight of the can, which they really need to address and not overlook.
Overall, we are very happy with them reducing recycling, trash and refuse pickups from three to four times to one time a week. I do hope DeKalb will consider an alternative option for the weight of the cans for those who cannot move them, as it seems morally and legally the right thing to do.