The City has a mandatory solid waste and recycling program for all residents, which is currently staffed by four drivers. The solid waste service is an automated service, using trucks equipped with a lift mechanism, which allows the driver to empty containers without exiting the vehicle.
Productivity in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area was studied, and it was determined that the average solid waste driver was able to pickup 776 customers in an 8-hour workday using an automated system. The City has consistently been below this threshold, but with increased construction activity and annexations, it is anticipated that this level will be surpassed in the 2019-2020 budget cycle.
There are two immediate factors involved in the impending workload increase: residential construction and the assuming of service in annexed areas.
The graph at right shows the past, current, and anticipated customer counts from 2000 to 2021. With the close relation between the customer counts and pickup counts, it is clear the number of daily pickups per driver will exceed the area standard in 2019.
Solid Waste Study
To derive as much efficiency as possible without hiring an additional driver and purchasing an additional truck, the City is currently undertaking a 2-year study to explore options for improving the policies and procedures for the Solid Waste Department.
Some key areas being evaluated are equalizing the number of customers across the pickup week, ensuring rates are adequately set to cover expenses, educating customers, and ensuring drivers are using industry standard best practices for driving routes efficiently.
Solid Waste Service Calls
One of the areas highlighted as an impact on driver efficiency is returned trips for missed service, either by driver error or customers setting cans out late. By educating customers about their service, we can reduce these additional unnecessary trips that pull drivers from scheduled routes.
Another area targeted has been bulky item pickup. In the past, the City would remove items that required drivers to exit the vehicle, which slowed pickups and risked driver injury lifting items manually. By disallowing items that cannot fit in a can or be removed by the truck arm, this area is also being improved.