Specialized trash trucks operated by a single employee now dominate the waste removal industry for obvious reasons. These uniquely designed machines can empty over 400 recycling or garbage barrels per day in large public beach areas, and save big bucks by repositioning the workforce and eliminating injuries. The benefits are so satisfying that city leaders are now using the same strategy for inland parks, hiking trails and sports facilities.
Vast public areas like parks and athletic fields have long been the bane of many sanitation departments. Sprawling acreage gives visitors plenty of space to recreate but also becomes a high-volume dumping ground for both refuse and recycling that is difficult to service efficiently. Add lengthy hiking trails to the mix and municipalities face a common dilemma: clean up the mess fast while staying within a budget—or expect complaints.
Michael Schaber, parks and forestry operations manager for the city of Rochester, Minnesota, knows the drill all too well. His crew must remove trash and recycling from 107 parks that total about 3,000 acres. The environments include hiking trails and sports complexes.
“In the past we’d send out a couple guys in pickup trucks with a dumpster attached to the rear. They’d have to get out of the truck, lift and empty the trash barrel, and then get back in the truck. It took forever,” he says.
Now he sends out one man who easily finishes the complex task within two 8-hour working days – even in winter when the vehicles must traverse through deep snow.
The eureka moment happened while he was enjoying a vacation in the Miami area. He marveled at the vehicles that emptied the trash and recycling receptacles on the beaches.
Schaber’s research lead to Boyhill, a Nebraska-based company that had provided Load-and-Pack machinery for the city of St. Paul. The vehicle is fitted with special tires that defy snow, soft sand and mud, while boasting a four-wheel drive capability and a hydraulic front-lifting arm that grabs, hoists and empties containers up to 90 gallons and 500 pounds; the cycle per container only lasts about five seconds.
For recycling operations, the Load-and-Pack can run the route twice, picking up recycling on the first pass and then switching to the refuse on the second.
“It didn’t take long to convince us. And it was easy to win approval because we’d save money by reducing paid time and avoiding employee injuries,” he says.
Department heads and contractors cite five factors that prove buying specialized, off-road vehicles like the Load-and-Pack is a wise investment.
Charles V. Loftis, director of the Sand Beach Department in Harrison County, Mississippi, says maintaining 26 miles of manmade beach used to require eight employees on a daily basis. The work was so physically demanding that the county relied on inmates, jail trustees, to help with the exhausting, time-consuming chores. In those days, all the receptacles were lifted manually and emptied into a trailer pulled by a tractor.
“We’d pick up the trash seven days a week. It took so long to do the job that it wasn’t an economical way of doing things. And we couldn’t do the work in bad weather,” he says, adding, residents never filed complaints about inmates. Yet their presence seemed inappropriate in a vacation setting; and general fear of crime made some families uncomfortable.
Since purchasing several Load-and-Pack vehicles over the last 15 years, the county has reduced its workforce to two. One vehicle can empty more than 500 55-gallon drums per day. And drivers can work at ease even during inclement weather.
Chad Hudson, park supervisor in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has also reduced his workforce. In the busy season a single operator empties 500 barrels a day over 10 miles of beach.
Reduce Workman’s Comp
Some department heads say a catastrophic back injury could cost the city anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000—and that’s just one claim.
According to Loftis, back and shoulder strain injuries were common years ago, and for obvious reasons: supervisors and county workers had to lift heavy garbage bags out of barrels, an awkward and physically demanding repetitive motion.
“We’ve saved a lot on worker’s comp because nobody gets hurt. These vehicles designed to avoid injury. Add that to the time we save during pickup, and the Broyhill Load-and-Pack works perfect for us,” he says.
Speedy Trash Pickup
Investing in specialized equipment guarantees faster pickup—even when more receptacles are used on beaches and other areas.
Bill Schupp, owner of Schupp Enterprises, contracts with Isle of Palms, South Carolina to pick up trash and recycling. He’s basically a one-man band, so speed and efficiency are essential when emptying 250 cans on 7 miles of beach.
“If I hadn’t found this type of vehicle I wouldn’t be in the trash business,” says the former educator who created his business after retirement.
Cleaner Parks, Trails and Beaches
Overflow and trash spills are normal when too few receptacles are available in public areas. The messy, unsightly problem is solved by placing more trash containers on any given route, a choice that was unimaginable when the work was done manually.
Schaber used to resist when a resident would ask the city to add extra trash barrels. It was too time-consuming to maintain. Now he usually obliges.
Ideal for Large Properties
Finally, the specialized off-road vehicles are ideal for expansive properties with long distances to traverse. Schaber says his Load-and-Pack can travel any terrain quickly and yet not do damage to delicate hiking trails or the grass in Rochester’s soccer and baseball fields.
And thanks to the size of the compacted collection box, the driver only needs to unload his haul once—at the end of the day—while sitting in a cab with heat and air-conditioning.
Some one-man refuse collection vehicles offer collection boxes in sizes as large as 7 and even 9.5 cubic yards, with a trash compact ratio of 4:1 that provides storage of 28 and 38 cubic yards.