BPU Working With Elderly, Disabled On Garbage Bin Transition
If you are only 58 inches tall, using a 44-inch garbage container might be a daunting task.
Seventy-five-year-old Jamestown Board of Public Utilities customer Betsy Heimbuch is concerned about the size of the new garbage containers that will be delivered as part of the new Assigned Garbage Container Program the city-owned utility company is currently implementing.
“I can barely use my 30-inch can I have now,” she said. “A lot of elderly people have called me and said, ‘They’re too big.’ How are they going to manage.”
With a city that has many residents over the age of 65, 17% according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and several with disabilities, also 17%, Heimbuch is concerned there will be many people who will find the new container program challenging.
“They’re going to be very difficult to use for those who are disabled and elderly, or both,” she said. “How are people in a wheelchair going to put stuff in a 44-inch tall garbage can?”
Heimbuch isn’t the only one concerned about the new program. Becky Robbins, BPU communications coordinator, said she has personally talked to an estimated 20 people about the new container program. She said the BPU’s garbage hotline — 661-1651 — has also fielded several inquiries about the new program.
Robbins said Rehrig Pacific Company, the company the BPU is purchasing 15,000 containers from for the new program, will start to deliver the 95-gallon receptacles May 10. She said BPU customers who would like a smaller container can call the garbage hotline to apply for a 35-gallon container. She added those most likely to be approved to receive a 35-gallon receptacle will be the elderly, disabled and those with limited space issues.
“We’re putting together a list of customers who will receive a smaller container and we will get them a smaller one before July 1. People won’t have to come and get it. We will swap it out,” she said. “People who receive the (95-gallon) containers can begin to use them right away. If they’re too big, they can use their current container until July 1.”
Robbins said BPU officials plan to be flexible while transitioning to the new program.
“We’re trying to be as correct as we can be now, but if we have to be flexible, we will be,” she said. “There are situations we haven’t anticipated. We know we will have to revise things. We have the time to work out any issues.”
Robbins said BPU customers will be receiving a list of frequently asked questions about the new container program with their May newsletter and bill. She said customers can also visit jamestownbpu.com/DocumentCenter/View/1857/FAQs-in-English?bidId= to view the frequently asked questions.
“We want to work through any problems that people are anticipating,” she said.
Robbins said the new garbage container program will be similar to the recycling program that was implemented in 2014. Each container is numbered, identifying the residence where the container is assigned. The numbered containers remain with their designated residences and must be left behind when residents move out of the property. Residents may write their service addresses on their assigned containers with marker to help keep track of which container is assigned to each residence.
After implementing the recycling container program, Robbins said BPU customer recycling increased from an average of 35% to as high as 80%.
Robbins said the city code requires the use of a garbage can with a lid. She said after the BPU raised awareness to this rule, many customers requested that the city-owned utility should provide a garbage container with a lid.
“This is one reason we are doing this,” she said. “Another reason, it will benefit BPU employees who have suffered injuries from repetitive heavy lifting. Other injuries include workers handling bags with broken glass or needles poking out. We had a really bad glass cut last week. If they’re not handling bags, it will be safer for them as well.”
The use of standard containers means that BPU garbage collection will be semi-automated, with one employee driving each truck and a second employee wheeling containers into place behind the vehicle where a tipping mechanism will empty the bagged garbage into the truck. The tipping mechanisms have been installed on the BPU’s existing fleet of trucks.