Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In my last blog I shared some of the innovations, strategies and cost savings to tax payers in the Transportation Department. In this blog I tackle Landfill, Recycling and Trash Pickup. These are not sexy programs but they are essential to our daily living. The personnel in these departments are often unseen and undervalued.

City Council has approved and restored funding for some essential services that help to keep our city looking good. I can’t tell you the number of complaints I received about the lack of street sweeping in neighborhoods. When we, and everyone else, were in recession we cut back on our street sweeping schedule reducing the service to quarterly. Now, instead of street sweeping 4 times a year, it has been restored to every other month – 6 times a year.

Did you know right-of-way cleaning has increased by 25%? Each day about 25 pounds of trash are picked up with the creation of a dedicated litter patrol?

Are you annoyed when your neighbor puts out bulk trash right after it’s been picked up? A solid waste inspector has been added dedicated to dealing with these complaints. Make sure you call and register your complaints about this issue because we now have a person solely dedicated to dealing with them. We heard you and want to help you to keep your neighborhoods looking good.

By the way, did you know that our city is the only one that provides once-a-month pickup of bulk trash free of charge? I live on a street of large lot homes. Most of us have a tremendous amount of vegetation. When bulk trash makes a pickup on our street they are definitely earning their pay as they pick up mounds of tree limbs, brush and grass clippings.

Did you know that the city has a Landfill Master Plan? Our landfill serves about 55,000 households as well as some surrounding communities such as Avondale, Peoria and reciprocally with Phoenix.  It is important to maximize its current use in order to increase its lifespan as well. Right now the landfill deals with about 350,000 tons of garbage each year and our recycling facility deals with another 15,000 tons.

The landfill is made up of two distinct cells, the South Cell, currently in use, and the North Cell, currently being prepared for use in anticipation of the South Cell’s closure. By 2021 digging out the first portion of the North Cell will be completed.

Then beginning in 2022-2023 Phase 1 of the North Cell liner will be installed and the transition from using the South Cell to the North Cell will begin. The dirt from the North Cell excavations will be saved and stock piled to be used as daily cover. That means after all of the daily garbage has been put in, some of the dirt from the stock pile is used to cover that day’s trash collection.  Staff’s extensive planning for the use of our landfill has ensured that it will have capacity for more than the next 50 years.

Here’s another innovative program – Alley Gates. It seems inconsequential but it turns out that it is not. Have you ever driven down one of our alleys? They are located in the older portions of our community. They tend to be nasty. Trash strewn all over, weeds, varmints attracted by all of the trash, illegal dumping, a haven for crime related activities that are difficult to observe and they are often a magnet for the homeless. A majority of residents abutting an alley can request the alley gates or in some cases, certain city departments; Police, Field Operations, or Code Compliance can request the gates for safety, operations or health reasons.

The 300 gallon bins are removed and residents get the 95 gallon containers. All trash is removed from the alley followed by a street sweeper. Then the gates are closed and locked. If a resident needs access to the alley they may borrow a key from the city (to be returned). Since the program started in 2016, 27 alleys have been gated.

Another new, innovative program is the adoption of routing software for both residential and commercial garbage pickup. Right now it is about to be implemented for commercial routes. Once that is complete, it will be used for residential routes. Why bother? Well, first of all, the program figures out the best routes to use. That ends up reducing mileage driven and equalizes routes for all of the drivers. Improved routing will cause a reduction in overtime charges, a reduction in fuel costs, a prolonging of the life span of garbage trucks and a reduction in maintenance costs.

The last major innovation I will share today is the city’s Blue Barrel Pilot Program. What many residents don’t know is that while recycling feels good, after all, we’re helping to clean our environment — our recyclables are so contaminated, that fewer and fewer recyclable companies will accept our material.

Did you know that some of the only items you will soon be asked to place in your green recycling container will be plastic water bottles, plastic soda bottles and milk jugs? On the bottom of each piece of plastic is a triangle with a number in it. It’s not easy to find or to read it but it is important for the health of our recycling program. The city doesn’t want and cannot use plastics with the numbers 3 though 7 on the bottom of the container. It will soon be starting an education program for all residents about proposed changes. Here’s a quick graphic explaining what’s acceptable and what isn’t:

The city started the Blue Barrel Pilot Program to audit the level of contamination in recycling containers as well as the level of participation of our residents. Why a blue barrel? Why not use the barrels we have now? Many residents have problems in distinguishing between the beige garbage containers and the pale, sage green recycling containers. Below are some preliminary results:                        As a result of the preliminary audits, city council is questioning whether the city should continue recycling. At some future date there will be a workshop devoted to this topic once the Pilot Program is completed. 

Why bother to share these and other great activities occurring in Glendale? It’s very, very easy to criticize but much more difficult to recognize the good.  Glendale’s employees, when unleashed, are creative and innovative. They, too, love Glendale whether they live here or not.

They are proud of the work they do to serve you and to make Glendale the great city that it is. I believe it is important to share their strategies and programs they have implemented to make Glendale stand out from our sister Valley cities.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         


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