In this case, it’s OK to talk trash.
The city of Kissimmee will be the first municipality in the United States to use underground receptacles emptied by a truck with a crane mechanism, replacing the metal open-air dumpsters that can be foul-smelling.
Kissimmee-based Underground Refuse Systems, the brainchild of longtime School Board member Jay Wheeler, has brought the technology to the United States for the first time. It originally debuted in Barcelona, Spain, Florence, Italy and at Disneyland Paris. Wheeler’s company is an American distributor for the technology. The city of Kissimmee is the first domestic government agency to partner up.
Down the line, Wheeler said he hopes that the 5-ton receptacles built into the streets would be manufactured and installed locally, adding jobs.
“I’ve been on the School Board a long time, I’ve seen a lot of kids graduate, and I see this as a way to create good jobs here,” he said at the unveiling of the system Wednesday.
Sidewalk trash bins deliver waste to the underground bins in 11-foot-deep pits.
A specially-designed, $424,000 truck attaches a crane to a bell housing on the top of the bin, then hoists and dumps the bin into the truck, which has a compactor. The bin is then lowered back into the concrete housing in the street or sidewalk. The truck can make up to 125 pickups a day; each one takes about 70 seconds to complete.
To prevent illegal dumping, the trash bins can be locked with a key.
The specially-designed receptacles require no concrete enclosure, eliminate odors from overflowing trash and keep out animals like raccoons, rats and, for other areas, bears. While the bin is being hoisted into the truck, metal flaps that support more than 800 pounds fold into place to close the hole and prevent anything from going in.
“Unless the animal is in the trash bag, it can’t get in,” he said, noting the foot level to open the trash can is out of the reach of the opening for a rodent.
“We’re out to change the face of commercial trash collection in the United States, and we’re starting here in Kissimmee,” Wheeler said. “The city did this deliberately and thoughtfully.”
Currently, three common dumpsters are located between Broadway and Pleasant Street in the downtown business area, serviced by Waste Management. Six Underground Refuse bins were or are being constructed into Darlington and Pleasant Streets as part of the Mosaic development project.
In addition, the city acquired six above-ground mobile units, at $3,000 a piece, which can be moved to events sites like Lakefront Park, that are hoisted the same way.
Kissimmee Public Works Director Kerrith Fiddler brought the system to the attention of city leaders in May 2016. Commissioners approved it, and City Manager Mike Steigerwald and his staff found budget space for the $500,000 startup costs.
He said after the startup costs, the operational costs are about the same as the city’s existing solid waste spending. A benefit is the underground system brings recycling to downtown.
“It’s a part of the downtown redevelopment,” Steigerwald said. “More people downtown creates the problem of more dense matter, which leads to the problem of constrains for space for solid waste removal. Meshing with a local company in our Incubator, we’ve helped solve that problem.
“There’s lots of benefits: people won’t hear that noise of banging dumpsters at 6 a.m., we don’t have to create enclosures in new development, and you can stick the bins on the sidewalk, a benefit to moving people and parking.”