Alabaster may change curbside debris collection service

Published 11:40 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster’s Public Works Department soon may make changes to its procedures for picking up curbside debris throughout the city, and the City Council likely will vote on the matter in November.

Public Works Director Mark Harris and Shelby County Development Services Director Chad Scroggins brought the issue to council members during an Oct. 11 work session, and said the city’s frequency of collecting all types of curbside rubbish every week is causing issues for the city at the Shelby County Landfill.

Currently, Public Works uses grapple trucks to pick up any type of debris left on curbs throughout the city and transports it to the landfill. Harris said issues arise when wood waste is mixed with other types of debris, such as household trash, furniture and other items, and then transported to the landfill. The Public Works curbside debris pickup service is separate from the city’s regular weekly trash and recycling pickup.

From 2010 to 2017, the city saw its number of hauls to the landfill double, and Harris said this year’s number is on track to surpass the 2017 number.

“In order to help the landfill out, we need to separate this stuff out. We can’t have household trash mixed with tree waste,” Harris said. “Right now, we are essentially allowing citizens to dump on the side of the road.”

Scroggins, who oversees the landfill, said the county encourages cities to segregate waste by type before it’s transported to the landfill. While the landfill can accept mixed waste, it must be placed in the highest-cost portion of the facility, which raises the expense to the city.

Because of the volume of curbside waste collected by the city every week, Harris said the Public Works Department does not have the manpower to separate debris by type before transporting it to the landfill. During the Oct. 11 work session, Harris showed council members photos of several massive trash piles containing everything from children’s outdoor playsets to construction debris left on the curb for the city to pick up, and said the Public Works Department encounters them on a daily basis.

As a result, the city is considering moving to a pickup schedule similar to surrounding cities such as Chelsea and Pelham. Under the proposed changes, the Public Works Department would continue to pick up biodegradable waste such as leaves, trees and grass clippings curbside each week, and would schedule two heavy trash pickup days a year for other types of waste.

The two heavy trash pickup days likely would coincide with the landfill’s free days in October and April.

“It sounds like this is long overdue, and it’s almost something we have to do,” City Council President Scott Brakefield said.

The council likely will discuss the matter during its Oct. 30 work session before voting on the changes during one of its November meetings.