Dubuque to Research Automatic Garbage Trucks

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- One of the largest cities in eastern Iowa will weigh the options on a new fully automated system to pick up trash.

The city of Dubuque is spending $30,000 on a study to see if it makes sense to make trash-collecting a completely automated system.

Currently, there are few semi-automatic trucks in the area, but most trucks require collectors to get out and pick up the trash.

Those with the Public Works Department in the city say while it is not possible to eliminate trash collectors in every area of the city, this would relieve some of the physical stress on the collectors- and could, in turn, make things easier for Dubuquers, too.

"It helps us protect our workers, both on the repetitive motion-type injuries, " said John Klostermann, Public Works Director for the City of Dubuque.

"We're hoping that it will be more helpful for their body, and also for the customer as well," said Anderson Sainci, Resource Management Coordinator for the City of Dubuque. "The customer won't have to lift the can and bring it- just get a wheel container now and push it to the curb or the alley line."

Sainci said based off his 12 years here in Dubuque, he believes this is a realistic vision and it falls in line with a long-term vision for the city.

Currently, most people in Dubuque have one option: take out the trash and leave it at the curb. Dubuquers still would leave the trash on the curb or the alley, but rather than collectors get out and lift it, the truck would use an arm to lift it itself.

Sainci says the change is in the Capital Improvement Program budget for the five-year plan in the city, but before they made any changes, the next step is to receive feedback from the community once the study comes back.

"What does that mean to the citizens, how much will the citizens have to pay if that's the case?" asked Sainci "So what's the impact to them? So that will be the next phase of having ongoing conversations with our citizens, to make sure that they're on board, to make sure they have a say-so with how we move forward with our collection."

Sainci said they have already been working extensively with those conducting the study and could start working on the changes as early as this fall.

Klostermann said they plan to have the study completed by October 1, and at that, it point will look to Dubuquers for feedback on if it makes sense to go forward with the change.

If all goes according to plan without any issues, it could go into the budget for Fiscal Year 2020. Work is expected to begin on that budget this coming Fall.