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IF could switch to automated garbage trucks

IF could switch to automated garbage trucks

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Trash rates could be going up in Idaho Falls, but garbage trucks would have less workers. The sanitation department is looking at replacing two of its trucks with automated ones.

Currently, Idaho Falls uses rear-load trucks where a worker has to ride on the side of the vehicle and pick up the trash manually. Automated trucks use less manpower and work faster.

Superintendent of the Idaho Falls Sanitation Department Tony Areheart said the new trucks could eliminate injuries, which ultimately cost the city money through workers compensation.

"We have a lot of injuries with shoulders and backs so we are trying to look at it to see if that is the way we want to go," said Areheart.

If the city makes the change it can also eliminate workers. The City of Ammon went from four drivers to one. This is one reason why Idaho Falls is hesitant. Another is the upfront cost.

"The cost of the trucks are a little bit more and of course we would have to buy the containers," Areheart said. 

The automated trucks cost about $190,000. Ray Ellis, public works director for the City of Ammon, said the money is worth the benefits. Ammon has been using automated trucks since 2009.

"It has been great. We went from a five-day week to a four-day week," Ellis said.

Ellis also said money is saved when injuries are prevented.

"We feel really good we have not had any loss-time accidents since then," said Ellis.

Areheart says the pros and cons are high for a decision that could effect customers and workers.

Idaho Falls officials said if the city makes the switch, a 56-gallon or a 90-gallon bin will be provided and all your trash has to fit inside. Your rates in Idaho Falls would go up nearly $5.  

A study is being done to weigh the pros and cons of using automated trucks. It could take three to four months before the results are released.

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