Letter to the Editor: Time for a trash hauler review

Dear Editor,

Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle’s proposed trash hauler review is the right thing to do.
I am a licensed professional engineer with experience to restructuring trash hauling for industrial customers and evaluating trash haulers and disposal facilities.
Here are the challenges we face:
1. It cost our subdivision homeowners over $6,000 per household to have our publicly owned subdivision roads repaved over 15 years ago. Many other subs with public roads are in terrible condition and need repaving. There is no county funding to repair these roads. Independence has raised money to repave major county roads in our township.
2. Heavily load trucks tear up our roads and bridges. Trash haulers have the heaviest axle loads traveling on our township roads. Each trash hauler has 2-3 trucks (trash, recycling and yard waste) serving each customer weekly. These trucks are much heavier and do much more damage to our roads than delivery trucks such as Amazon, Fed Ex or UPS trucks.
3. We paid Smith’s $54/ quarter in their last year of business. Some of us are now paying around $64/quarter. Others have commented on being billed over $100/quarter. At least one trash hauler charges to stop their service. Some customers have experienced customer service and communication problems when their local trash hauler was bought out by a larger firm.
4. The demand for household recycling has declined and is impacted by items placed in our recycling containers that are not locally recyclable. Styrofoam, plastics other than #1 & #2 plastics and containers containing food residue are not recyclable. Michigan lags behind other states in amount of waste that is recycled. Some recycling facilities have closed forcing trash haulers to take recycling to more distant facilities.
5. No new landfills have opened in our area in 40 years. Some trash haulers are using landfills over 40 miles away. New landfills are difficult to site and expensive to construct.
What a township study could accomplish:
1. Our local trash haulers should be asked what would help reduce road damage and minimize future cost increases.
2. Dividing the township into areas with one trash hauler per area would reduce the number of heavy trucks on our streets. It is less expensive for one trash hauler to pick up all houses on a road than for many trash haulers to do this. Trash would be on the side of a road 1 day per week instead of 3-5 days per week.
3. Our local trash haulers could compete for areas of our township so leaving us less at the mercy of a firm that decides to suddenly stop service as has happen recently nearby.
I would not recommend having a single trash hauler for the entire township as many of our reliable, cost effective trash haulers would face an all or nothing proposition.
4. In northern Michigan, Emmett County runs a recycling operation that is financially self-sufficient. Residential recycling is picked up for free but in 2 categories- containers (glass, plastic & metal) and paper & cardboard.
Electronics, mattresses, waste paint and other items can be recycled for a slight charge at a drop off location.
Multiple private trash haulers pick up trash for $3/bag.
5. Independence Township as sought an alternative to leaf burning. Some communities use vacuum trucks to pick up household leaves and avoid leaf burning.
We can sit back and let these heavy trash trucks continue to overload our roads and pay higher prices as local landfills disappear.
Or we can have our township review the alternatives to save our roads and minimize our costs of trash hauling and recycling.

Bob Wyatt
Independence Township

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