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After years of research and planning, the City of Minot is preparing to switch to an automated garbage collection system in July.
Public Works employees who work in the Sanitation Department began training in May when the first of six new automated trucks arrived in Minot, and will continue training when the new system begins, tentatively planned for July 17. When the new system starts, it will be the culmination of more than three years of planning and development by City officials, notably Public Works Director Dan Jonasson, Assistant Director of Public Works Jason Sorenson, and Sanitation Superintendent John Reynolds.
The new trash containers will be delivered to Minot households during the week of July 8-16. The containers provided by the City of Minot come in three sizes: 35 gallons, 65 gallons, and 95 gallons. Unless they notified the City which size they preferred, residents will be provided with the standard 65-gallon container.
Technology in the new trucks allows each new container to be automatically tracked and matched to the proper residence by three forms of identification; a bar code, a serial number, and an embedded radio frequency identification chip that is read by sensors on the truck.
The City of Minot purchased six new automated trash collection trucks. Two trucks have arrived in Minot, with a third expected soon. Currently, the City has six sanitation trucks out on routes daily. Under the new system, there will still be six trucks out on routes every day: Five new, fully automated trucks with one crew member each, and one retro-fitted, semi-automated truck with a three-person crew.
The automated sanitation trucks will stop next to the new waste containers, use mechanical arms to lift the container and empty the contents into the truck, and return the container to the ground. The trucks are operated by one person. The trucks are designed to be efficient when driving down alleys, with arms that can lift and empty trash containers on both sides of the truck simultaneously.
Should residents be unable to place their new carts curbside because of physical limitations, the city will offer a valet service. Residents can fill out paperwork from the city that includes getting a doctor’s signature, and the collection truck driver will move the container for the resident.
The new automated system will allow sanitation crews to avoid the harsh elements of North Dakota’s weather, and the automated trucks will help reduce the number of on-the-job injuries to workers. Crew members currently face a number of potential injuries, including slips, trips, falls, hazardous chemicals, and scrapes and cuts from broken glass, needles, and nails.
In addition to increased efficiency of the new system, the new containers will help contain household garbage, and there will no longer be unsightly piles of garbage sitting on the curb. The new containers are also built to be resistant to tipping over in windy conditions.
The purchase of the new automated trucks is the first of many steps for the City of Minot to be able to provide curbside recycling. The City now has the trucks necessary to implement a curbside recycling collection program in the future.
At its regular June meeting, the Minot City Council on first reading approved changes to city ordinance that would require all single-family dwellings within city limits to use City of Minot sanitation services. Currently, approximately 1,200 households have been allowed to opt out of using city services. The ordinance change must be approved on second reading at the July 10 City Council meeting.