Established in 1779, Jonesborough is Tennessee’s oldest town with a rich history of public services. Law records from the 1800s mandated that every able-bodied male spend two hours per week cleaning up the streets and hauling away trash. In turn, the public waste disposal program was created. Today, the town’s Solid Waste Disposal Department has become one of the premier examples of good stewardship and responsible waste disposal covering the entire spectrum of community waste and population of about 4,800. Household garbage, light industrial and commercial waste are managed alongside some of the more reclaimable waste such as recyclables, leaves and brush, which are all handled though the system.
Keeping Costs Down
Accounting to Gary Lykins, Fleet Manager for the Solid Waste Disposal Department, that state of economy has affected all operations in the public and private sector. “Some of the most visible differences are the price of tires, fluids and of course fuel. The price of petroleum products can be loosely tired to economic conditions but the main focus for a public sector operation is keeping costs low when customers are struggling with all their bills.” He points out that the town of Jonesborough has a governing body that has shown extraordinary efforts to be progressing while keeping costs down for the residents. Not only is there a recycling discount in place that gives a $2 credit to the residents that choose to participate in the curbside recycling program, but recapped tires, optimized routes and engine computer control programs have also lowered operating costs while greatly reducing down time.
A Tidy Operation
Lykins says that right now the industry’s number one challenge is to push the needle from the complacency to innovation and become leaders in the waste industry. “Far too often it is said that the refuse collections industry is a necessary evil and it is just best to look away and let it get done. In our case the elected officials, management and operations are engaged in making this the best solid waste department it can be.“
An overview of the Solid Waste Disposal Department reveals a tidy little operation—one automated side loaderr with about 2,000 stops per week, one front loader with 116 commercial dumpsters (most dumped multiple times per week) and a converted landscape truck for curbside recycling. One of the main challenges Johnesborough has encontered is the expense of collection equipment. “Refuse trucks are in the $250k ball part and the operational costs are enormous,” says Lykins. “Given the nature of a refuse route’s everyday operation in all weather conditions, all traffic scenarios and all volume swings, it is imperative to have a solid truck ready to go to work. Keeping this equipment in a state of readiness is perhaps the biggest challenge of any refuse operation, but doing it with minimal or no backup equipment requires an airtight maintenance program.“ During the Departments’s 2011/2012 fiscal year, they were faced with the imminent demise of their current automated slide loader. At 11 years old, the body had literally cost tens of thousands of dollars in repairs over the previous two years and the constant downtime was a major inconvenience to the operation. “At a price tag of $225,000 to $275,000 a new automated side loader is a major concern in a airtight $500,000 per year budget. We had at to think outside the box, “ says Lykins. “The Solid Waste Disposal Department has recently purchased, traded or rebuilt their small but vital sanitation department. At the behest of our ever-vigilant Mayor, fleet management was given the awesome responsibility of reinventing the department though equipment purchases.“
Lykins explains that the Department purchased a 2008 Peterbilt fitted with a refurbished automated side loader with only 400 miles from ALLIANCE REFUSE TRUCKS in Arizona for $165,000. Their 2002 Peterbilt automated side loader only had 80,000 miles on it so Lykins sent it to ALLIANCE REFUSE TRUCKS to be fitted with a refurbished Heil front end loader body. In exchange for the front end loader body, installation and trasportation, the Department traded in their 2006 International 7900 with a Heil 5000 rear loader body (independently valid at $65,000). In total, ALLIANCE REFUSE TRUCKS saved the city nearly $100,000 in fleet purchases.