Council buys yard waste carts

Register file photo

BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council voted Tuesday to purchase yard waste carts to replace the paper bags currently being used in the program.

Todd Langland, director of solid waste for the city, asked the city to purchase 3,965 yard waste carts, which will cost $235,931. 

“The reason that 3,965 seems odd is because we base it on truckloads” to get a better idea on the shipping expenses, Langland said.

“The public comment I’m getting is really positive, Todd, so pretty excited about this. That’s great,” Mayor Keith Corbett said.

New collection program

The carts will be purchased through Sourcewell, and the purchase will allow the implementation of the new automated yard waste collection program, according to a memo by Langland that was attached to the agenda on the city’s website. 

Carts will be delivered in March/April to residents who request them. Yard waste bags will be available in the fall for leaf pick up until the inventory is gone. Extra carts will be available for a fee of $4 per month. 

The new yard waste cart program will be implemented in April 2021. No bags will be accepted unless they are placed in the cart, according to Langland’s memo.


Langland said the new program will provide safer working conditions for employees which improves risk management. 

It “takes employees out of hazardous conditions of jumping on and off the back of the truck, slipping on wet streets, and lifting heavy, wet bags. Yard waste refuse will be more protected from the elements and allow easy automated pick up. This process will increase efficiencies with the reduction of physical labor and cleaner pickup,” according to Langland’s memo.

The current yard waste program was started in 1994. Each year, the Collection Department picks up over 67,000 paper bags that are sold to Brookings residents. 

The current manual collection process involves one operator driving the truck and a second employee riding on the back, which creates a greater risk of injury.

Financial impact

The average annual cost for the carts is $23,593.16, Langland reported. One cart costs $59.50, and the cost per cart is less than $6 per year over the 10-year warranty period. 

“The Yard Waste Cart Program will operate approximately six months out of the year, putting the cost of the cart at $1 per month. If the average resident uses three yard bags per week under the current system, the cost is $3. The cost for the city to own the cart would be 25 cents per week,” according to Langland’s memo. 

Yard waste bags cost 50 cents apiece. 

“Under the current yard waste program, the city purchases an average of 67,000 bags annually for a total annual cost of $33,500. The city sells the bags at 45 cents per bag, which provides $30,150 to fund labor, fuel cost and truck maintenance. The 5 cent-per-bag city subsidy multiplied by 67,000 bags amounts to $3,350, which reduces the annual amortized cost of the carts to $20,243,” according to Langland’s memo. 

Employee impact

Langland said automating the yard waste program will allow the yard waste collection operation to go down from two employees to one. 

The cost of a full time Collection Department employee, with benefits, is approximately $60,000 per year. 

“The automated system will allow one full-time employee, at the annual salary and benefit value of $60,000, to be reassigned to departmental strategic priorities and allow collection operations to keep up with community growth,” Langland’s memo said. 

“Shifting to the automated yard waste collection system alleviates the need of replacing the $200,000 rear-load garbage truck as part of the 2020 Capital Improvement Plan. The $200,000 in savings from the budgeted truck expenditure and $40,000 in savings from bag purchases provides the funds for the yard waste cart purchase,” according to Langland’s memo.

The city will be responsible for maintaining the yard waste carts, with the vast majority of repairs being covered by the warranty.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected].