New Jersey Township Puts Automated Collection To The Test

Manahawkin, N.J. - As many waste managers will attest, manual refuse collection can be a pain in the neck - in more ways than one.

Since 1993, Stafford Township, N.J., has experienced growing pains. New home construction at a rate of about 450 per year, combined with a rise in workman's compensation injuries, prompted the Department of Public Works to establish a pilot program to test automated solid waste collection. The township aimed to use the latest technology while controlling program costs.

The Mack MR test truck included right-hand drive conversion, large windows and a Clarion rear-view camera and monitor. The truck body included a joystick-operated Maxon arm that could extend 10 feet and a packer that could operate in drive at an idle. The township tested 38-, 64- and 96-gallon containers supplied by Schaefer Systems International. Manufacturers provided equipment for the four- to eight-week pilot program at no charge to the city.

At the pilot's conclusion, homeowners approved the new refuse collection system by a 99.8 percent margin, and the township purchased the automated garbage truck along with 1,400 collection carts. Over a 60-month period, the system will be expanded to include all residences where street logistics allow for automated collection.

The township believes the new system will reduce workers' injuries, overtime costs and street litter, while allowing the department of public works to use its labor resources elsewhere. No workers will lose jobs due to the new automated collection system, city officials reported.