April 19, 2014

Elyria
Sunny
54°F
test

TALKING TRASH: In LaGrange

It`s been six months since Allied Waste delivered a 90-gallon plastic trash container to Kim Radca in the automated trash program nicknamed “pay as you throw.”

Every Monday, an automated trash truck comes by, lifts the container, dumps the contents and the trash is gone – no muss and no fuss, Radca said.

“It`s working out fine for us,” she said “It looks cleaner and neater.”

So far, the family of three doesn`t need to pay anything extra because all their trash easily fits in the one can.

They place recyclables in blue plastic bags for pick-up by another Allied Waste truck.

Radca is one of the happy customers of the automated trash pick-up program, which now serves 3,800 people in LaGrange, Grafton, LaGrange Township, Wellington Township, and on a volunteer basis in parts of Avon and Amherst.
Others aren`t so enthusiastic.

“This is the craziest thing they`ve ever done,” LaGrange resident Tracy Stratton said.

“There`s only two of us and we only have one bag,” Stratton said. “The container blows over every single week.”

Stratton said she preferred taking her single bag of garbage to the side of the street without having to haul a big container back and forth. And it`s going to get worse when winter snow drifts come into play, Stratton predicted.

She said she had to laugh when one of the special mechanized trucks broke down and trash crews painstakingly opened the huge containers and placed trash piece by piece into their trucks.

The program is especially difficult for the elderly because the container is unwieldy, she added.

“My mother has bone cancer and her husband is in his 80s,” Stratton said. “These older people should be able to take their trash out in a bag and leave it – they`ve earned that right.”

Eleven of 21people questioned by The Chronicle said they like the program; seven said they dislike it and three said they just don`t care – trash service is trash service.

Of those who didn`t like the service, cost wasn`t an issue. And neither was not having enough room to throw out the weekly trash.

The only drawback for Marilyn Offenberg is that the bigger trash can doesn`t fit through the side door in her garage. She has to open the garage door to get it in and out.

LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said Village Council approved the program because they didn`t think they had a choice. He  said Allied Waste offered a carrot of sorts – collection rates wouldn`t go up as fast.

“They told us we did it now, or within three or four years you`re going to have to do it anyway,” Strauss said.

Strauss said most of the village residents live fairly close to the road, but the program is more difficult for those who live in the township and have to pull the container farther.

That`s definitely a concern for one township resident, who declined to give her name.

“We didn`t like it – our driveway is 450 feet from the road,” she said. “In the wintertime, we didn`t know how we`d do it.”

It was easier to just sling the trash bags into the trunk and put them by the road, she said.

What`s worse, the program was forced on residents, said the woman, who canceled trash service altogether.

She said she is making do with a lot of recycling and donations to the Salvation Army. She declined to say where the rest of the trash is going.

Less than 3 percent of residents in communities with automated trash collection have canceled service, said Adam West, operations manager for Allied Waste.

One complaint from the LaGrange residents who don`t like “pay as you throw” is that they can no longer put out large items like couches and televisions.

Allied Waste does provide pick-up of bulk items on the first Friday of every month in Grafton, according to Dave Kidder, marketing and development director.

Allied Waste has Dumpsters available for large items at selected sites in Wellington Township, LaGrange and LaGrange Township, he said.

And some older folks really like the program, said Vicki Webber, whose 86-year-old father Victor Hoffman, is a big fan of the big blue trash can in LaGrange.

“He just wheels it out and wheels it back in” Webber said. “He finds no problem with it.”

While there have been problems convincing Lorain to take part, Kidder said automated trash collection is the future.

In Avon, about 2,500 of about 5,000 households have voluntarily taken the trash carts for automated collection, he said.

Kidder said the company hopes to persuade Avon and Amherst to adopt the program.

The program is slowly growing on some LaGrange residents, including Ron West.

“At first I wasn`t too crazy about it – we have seven people in this family – but we fit our garbage into the one container every week,” West said.

The key is recycling, West said. The family has recycled for years and does it religiously – including composting grass and yard waste.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.