Automated trash pickup coming to Wilmington

By Nathan Kraatz -

WILMINGTON — Automated trash collection — in which the truck, not people, pick up residents’ trash — is coming to Wilmington in the coming months.

The Wilmington Sanitation Department has purchased an automated trash collecting truck and a few thousand Toter trash cans for residential, not commercial, service.

While the cans are being delivered to the sanitation department over the next few weeks, the department, which operates trash pickup and the city landfill, intends to pursue a public education campaign to inform residents of the changes and what they mean for them.

Soon, selection cards will go out in the mail asking residents if they want a 65-gallon or a 95-gallon trash can. Those who don’t respond will receive a 95-gallon trash can by default.

“When we deploy these carts (at a date not yet set) … when you get home, you’re going to see a trash can sitting at the end of your driveway,” Dunham said. “The exact place you see that trash can is the exact place that you need to put it out on trash day” in order for the trash cans to be picked up.

One can itself is free for residents, absorbed into the $14.86 per month refuse fee charged to residents for trash pickup.

According to Dunham, a 95-gallon trash can should be enough for most of the city’s households. A few homes, he said, may need two, which will incur an additional 50 percent monthly fee for a total of $22.29 per month.

After the flyers, Dunham hopes to send out tri-fold brochures with residents’ utility bills to inform residents about the changes and how the sanitation department hopes to benefit from them.

The investment will reduce annual personnel expenses by more than $100,000, according to Dunham, who projects a three-year return on investment for the solid waste enterprise fund.

Dunham said both employees previously tasked with lifting trash cans have filled other positions within other city departments. The old residential trash truck will be used as a backup truck, Dunham said.

The cans will be residents’ responsibility, and the city will have a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty on them.

Clerk of Council Marian Miller said legislation is being drafted to help enact the automated pickup.

Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.

By Nathan Kraatz