Trash on the ground

New solo pickup service leaves unsightly trail, residents say

Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE – A trail of trash left on city streets proved cause for concern Wednesday for City Council members and residents.

The trail, they say, is the result of a switch last month by Waste Management of Wixom to one-man trash pickups of curbside containers in neighborhoods.

Councilwoman Sue Herman said members waived the competitive bid process for the company last year because they believed a lower bidder might not provide the previously satisfactory level of litter-free neighborhood trash collection.

However, in late January, residents reportedly were dismayed to see a debris left left in the streets by the company’s new one-man-per-truck system. They were further upset that the long-time pickup team of Robert Poling and Ray Lake was replaced.

Residents said the two had become so attuned to city neighborhoods that they knew where to lift loads that residents couldn’t; the two also returned trash containers to side or back yards for homeowners unable to lift heavy or unwieldy bins.

“When they pick up the trash at an old person’s house, they take the trash barrel back,” resident Mike Suitor said. “I don’t know how they know it’s an old person’s house, but they do.”

Poling and Lake also earned appreciation for doing a “fantastic job,” he said, for their willingness to clean up curbside messes left by foraging animals, and for never leaving trash in the wake of their route.

“When there’s a mess on the street they’ll get a broom out and clean it,” Suitor said, “and they’ll make jokes…but they’ll never stop working.

“They’re doing the work all the time, and really keeping up with things. And all in all, when they’re done with things, the area is really clean.”

Herman on Wednesday offered the draft of a letter to be sent to Waste Management. In addition to asking for the return of Poling and Lake, it also puts the company on notice that it has forfeited its strategic advantage with the city by leaving litter in its wake.

Suitor also suggested that the Beautification Commission be made aware of the waste disposal changes and litter that is occurring.

The company’s one-man trucks are front loaders, Herman said, which throw garbage back, “kind of like throwing trash over your shoulder.” She too has started seeing trash on the ground after the new collectors have been by.

Herman said Waste Management has been an “excellent company” and a “good corporate citizen.”

“But they made this change without talking to us, as far as I know,” she said, adding she was sad that Poling and Lake were gone.

Herman’s letter requests the return of the the two-man truck, as well as Poling and Lake. The council took no action on it, however.

“Our streets and lawns are not as clean,” Mayor Valerie Cadez said, “and our community is a poorer place without them.”