Clifton Council Discusses New Garbage Cart and Reduced Pickup to Offset Rising Costs


Pictured is a garbage cart used in Middletown, NJ, similar to the one proposed for Clifton. Photo credit: Township of Middletown

The Clifton Council reviewed options at the July 19th Council meeting for its upcoming bid proposal for a new garbage contract. The current contract with Roselle is expiring after 5 years.

Consultant Wayne DeFeo of DeFeo Associates presented options for the bid proposal to mitigate the increased costs in garbage collection seen across NJ state.  DeFeo explained that “we are in a really bad state with recycling collection statewide, and nationwide” due to issues related to labor costs, staff shortages and supply chain issues. Several NJ towns have reported missed collections for days and weeks because of labor shortages to fulfill municipal contracts.

As NJ municipalities are renegotiating expiring garbage collection contracts, most are seeing price increases from 45% at a minimum up to 150% higher than 5 years ago.  City Manager Nick Villano indicated for Clifton a 45% increase would be 2.5Million.

DeFeo’s proposal includes the adoption of a 95-gallon garbage can or “garbage cart” for all residential garbage collection, that would help offset these issues and mitigate increasing costs. The cart includes a bar that can be used to mechanically load it into the garbage truck, thus reducing staff from 3 to 2 per truck. DeFeo indicated it has become “an industry standard to move towards fewer staff on the trucks to save costs.”

Additional benefits of the garbage carts include lower injury rates and workers comp claims. Traditional collection of waste has a high injury rate, DeFeo explained “reducing injury has a direct impact on the cost of service.”

Many NJ towns have already converted to the garbage cart for waste collection, including Middletown, Princeton, and Woodbridge, although DeFeo noted that North Jersey has been slower in adoption than central and southern municipalities.

DeFeo cited additional benefits of reduced rodent problems and uniformity at the curb, as well as encouraging residents to produce less garbage. The cost of the cart is added to the contract and is cheaper from the collector than what the municipality would pay. A minimum of a 5-year contract is recommended to amortize the cost over the life of the contract. The cart comes with a 10-year warranty which passes to the municipality after 5 years.

Cart colors and the addition of the municipal logo are up to the city to decide.

To further contain costs, DeFeo also recommended limiting bulk waste pickup, as the regular schedule for bulk waste is inefficient and “one of the most expensive services for residents.” A low percentage of residents use bulk pickup on the scheduled day, but it requires the collector to cover the entire route. DeFeo suggests limiting bulk pickup by requiring residents to pre-register for a requested bulk pickup day. Council members questioned how this would be handled, by phone, email or a website or app, and if Clifton would be required to handle it. DeFeo explained the city can include this as part of the bid and require the collector to handle bulk pickup registration.

After discussion, the Council unanimously agreed to structure the bid with DeFeo’s 3 recommendations and then compare those costs:

  1.  Keep Clifton's existing contract terms and twice per week collection (with no garbage cart)
  2.  Maintain twice per week collection with the new garbage cart and pre-registered bulk waste pickup
  3.  Reduce to once per week collection with the new garbage cart and pre-registered bulk waste pickup

DeFeo and Villano reiterated that the existing contract terms will see a large increase in today’s market, with DeFeo citing recent negotiations in Newark resulting in a 45% increase and Paterson a 116% increase.

To watch DeFeo's entire presentation, view the Council meeting online here

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