Talkin' Trash in Edmond

 

Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the November 2019 Issue

talkin' trash

When you weren’t looking, the trash disposal industry went seriously high-tech. The fleet of 12 trucks in Edmond cost $300,000 each, including multiple cameras, robotic arms, up to 22 miles of wiring, and GPS tracking systems. The crew is an educated group of men, many with college degrees, who take pride in what they do, removing 535,000 pounds of trash per day. You’ll be surprised by the complication and even the danger involved in driving a trash truck.

You may not know the man who services your neighborhood—but he knows you. As he pulls up to your trash bin, he notices where you’ve placed it and if you placed it. If it’s too far away, too close to the mailbox, or turned backward, he has to get out and fix it, costing both time and money.

“Getting out puts the driver at risk of getting hit,” said Bob Masterson, who oversees Edmond’s operation. “Safety is our priority, but even with all of our cameras, there are blind spots. When you drive by a trash truck, please wait for it to be fully stopped. We don’t want people to drive behind us through the whole neighborhood, of course, but pass slowly and pay attention.

As your trash or recycling bin dumps into the truck, the driver is looking at the contents for anything dangerous or illegal. If you think nobody noticed the paint cans, swimming pool chemicals, motor oil, ammunition or an old propane tank in your bin, you’ll be surprised when the trash company calls to alert you.

“It’s serious business because these items can combust and catch on fire,” Masterson said. “About six times each year, the trash does catch on fire! There’s a guy in a $300,000 truck about to burn to the ground, so he follows procedure: he dumps all 38,000 pounds of trash wherever he’s located, maybe into your street, and calls the fire department to hose it down.

Clearly, it’s safer (and less embarrassing) to take advantage of the city’s household hazardous waste programs, which offer various disposal options, including one free pick-up each year per residence.

One more tip to save you from embarrassment: If you forgot to put your bin out one week—just chalk it up to your mistake, because a camera took a time-stamped, GPS pinpointed photo of your location, minus your bin, and sent it to a computer as proof that the driver did not skip your house.

Edmond’s waste removal system is a $9 million operation each year. The men who work in this field are very aware that every piece of trash comes with an environmental cost, a land cost and a financial cost. Masterson, himself, has changed his whole outlook on shopping. “I’ve stopped buying things I don’t need, and I avoid products with over-packaging,” he said. “We should all consume less.

As it is, an average household generates 33 pounds of trash per week, and some generate up to 500 pounds, which is how much weight the truck’s arms can lift. The trucks that empty the commercial-size bins outside of businesses have arms that the drivers vibrate and shake for seconds before lifting the dumpster. Why? To alert any homeless people who might be digging or sleeping inside.

“Several times a year, someone pops their head out when the dumpster starts shaking. We stop so they can get out, otherwise, they would be dumped and crushed,” Masterson said. “As you can see, our drivers have to pay attention every second to keep their routes safe. We take our job very seriously because trash removal keeps Edmond cleaner and makes our community a better place to live.”

For more information on Edmond’s trash services visit www.edmondok.com

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