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Fremont will automate its recycling pickup

By Gary Popp
Published in News on April 5, 2012 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- There won't be garbage collectors hanging off the backs of trucks in Fremont anymore.

Officials are implementing a change this month in how recycling items are picked up from homes, which they say will allow the public works department to do the same job with less personnel.

The 18-gallon recycling bins, which have been used since the late 1990s, are being replaced with 96-gallon containers that can be picked up and dumped with an automated arm that extends from the town's garbage truck.

What once required a team of three people can now be completed by a single employee who drives the truck and operates the extension arm.

Several years ago the town switched its trash pickup to using a truck outfitted with the mechanical arm, but the recycling goods have always been manually dumped into receptacles on the truck.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said the new system frees up labor in the public works department that will be allotted to other areas including mowing the lawns of cemeteries, maintaining parks and collecting yard debris, which requires a vehicle not used in trash or recycling pickup.

McDuffie said the reduction of manpower will not lead to layoffs.

"In the last eight years Fremont has gone from 14 full-time employees to nine full-time employees in the public works department. That has all been done through natural attrition, not because of budgetary decisions," he said.

McDuffie said that in recent years public works employees have been asked to do more work than what was assigned before the personnel reductions.

One of the tasks that has been put on the shoulders of the employees, he said, is the operation of the spray field.

"We did a reduction in labor force when garbage pickup was changed over and we have been a bit understaffed ever since," McDuffie said. "This will allow us to get back to we need to be."

McDuffie said the new system of recycling collection also has safety benefits.

"There is less of a possibility of injury. When you have two guys riding on the back of a truck through the entire town all day, safety becomes an issue, and that is very important."

The new recycling bins were delivered Monday and Tuesday to homes on the east side of the railroad track that runs through the town.

For those who live on the west side of the tracks, bins will be delivered on April 16 and April 17.

Residents are able to keep their old bins for personal use. Town employees will carry away the old bins that are left on the side of the road after the new carts have been delivered.

The new system will not affect the schedule of recycling pickup days.