Zephyrhills residents will be issued new trash bins in the middle of February, free of charge from the city.
The Zephyrhills carts, or z-carts, will be a new alternative to residents purchasing their own bins — as they have done in the past.
The project has been four years in the making, as city officials have strategized what’s best for the community.
The 95-gallon cart will run on two wheels and will have a bar code designated specifically for each address.
Instead of being lifted by garbage removal crews, these garbage carts will be picked up through an automated system, using a side-loader truck.
“The automation is the collection mechanism on the truck instead of manually lifting the cart as we do now,” explained Shane LeBlanc, public works director of Zephyrhills. “You let the truck do all the work.”
While the side-loader will be a new addition, the city did not discount using other trucks as backup plans – such as the front-loader truck.
Rear-loader trucks will accommodate areas with narrow spaces, such as alleys.
Z-carts will be primarily for residential use, although they will be added to some businesses.
The carts will be spacious, but residents are asked not to use them for electronic equipment, chemical products or sharp objects, such as needles or glass.
The new approach, LeBlanc said, is “safer for our employees – less on-the-job injuries. There’s all kinds of hazards involved in collecting trash.”
The new trucks require only a driver, but other trucks meant for alleys will still have two additional garbage men for pickup.
Leaves and brush may be put out beside the trash bin, but must be tied in bundles.
Aside from protection and convenience, the project also addresses sanitation.
Many Zephyrhills residents use trash bins, but some leave tied bags at the curb of the road — leaving garbage vulnerable to rodents and causing messes.
Those issues are expected to decrease, with the 8,000 carts the city has ordered, as well as 500 spares.
Pickups will occur twice weekly, and z-carts should be placed by the curb by 7 a.m. Once everything is finalized with contractors, the city will provide the specifics on pickup days.
Zephyrhills is the only municipality in Pasco County with its own sanitation service.
Funded solely by the city, the z-carts will cost an estimated $350,000, while the first side-loader truck this fiscal year will be $300,000.
Next fiscal year, the city plans to purchase another truck, as well as provide automated service for recyclables.
While public reception has been positive, LeBlanc said that one concern has been workers potentially losing their jobs to automation.
He offered this reassurance: “We’re not going to reduce our workforce because we’ll be doing special pickups, dumpster maintenance [and] truck maintenance.”
He also expects a few hiccups along the way, as the new service gets underway. But, he’s confident that the project will run smoothly in the long run.
For more information on the z-carts call (813) 780-0022, or visit ci.zephyrhills.fl.us.
Published January 9, 2019