Solid waste crews play an essential role in our community’s health, safety, and quality of life

By Caroline Ask, Solid Waste Division Manager

Solid Waste and Recycling Workers Week is an ideal time for in-depth exploration of the essential daily services the City of College Station’s collection crews provide to our community.

The Solid Waste Division is part of the Public Works Department and provides all municipal solid waste collections in the city limits. Their work touches every residential customer, apartment complex, and commercial entity each week – more than 41,000 accounts!

From 2018-19, the division experienced a 7,000-ton spike in tonnage of generated municipal solid waste. Then, the pandemic hit and tonnages remained at a plateau from 2019-2020, with an annual average of 89,000 tons.

Last year, the division experienced an additional 9,000-ton spike for a yearly total of 98,800 tons. Each residential home generates an average of 205 pounds of solid waste per month, and collection demands will continue to rise as our community grows.

Our Solid Waste Crew

The Solid Waste Division is staffed with 33 equipment operators, two crew leaders, two supervisors, and a division manager. The crew manages:

  • Collection handling and transport.
  • Asset and inventory management.
  • Planning for efficiency and safety through new technologies and techniques.
  • Customer service, education, and outreach programs.
  • Collaboration with development engineering.
  • Environmental compliance and regulatory guidance.
  • Contracts and franchise agreements.
  • Serving as first responders during emergencies and disasters.

“The Claw” and Other Equipment

Solid waste equipment varies depending on the materials being collected. The team uses traditional rear loaders for small bulk, brush, and yard waste piles, and specialized knuckle boom trucks (think “The Claw” in  Toy Story) for large brush and heavy furniture.

Knuckle booms work in tandem with open-top trucks – or trucks with empty 40-yard roll-off boxes – which act as a shuttle hauling loads from the daily route to the landfill and back. In addition, the city has a specialized route and satellite rear loader for residents needing roll-out assistance.

Our most recognizable vehicles are the residential automated trucks with a yellow gripper arm collecting the contents of residential curbside carts. Each route and respective operator collects an average of about 1,300 residential carts daily.

Commercial collections use front-end load collection vehicles, the mammoths of our fleet. They can hold 14 tons of waste, are 25 feet long, and stand 14 feet tall. The forks lift the steel dumpsters at every commercial and apartment account. From May 2021-May 2022, we added  47 businesses and 96 multi-family units.

The crew also uses universal hook-up trucks to service roll-off boxes and compactor units, averaging about 117 pulls per month.

Solid Waste Management is Essential

The Solid Waste Division is vital in ensuring our community’s health and safety by reducing the adverse impacts waste materials can have on the environment. Our team also helps enhance the high quality of life we all enjoy in College Station.

The solid waste crew takes immense pride in their job. So, hats off and a sincere thank you to them, not just during Solid Waste Week, but every week!

<em><strong><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-medium-gray-color">About the Blogger</mark></strong></em>
About the Blogger

Caroline Ask is in her fifth year with the city and her second as the solid waste division manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector and held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in bioenvironmental sciences from A&M in 2012.

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