Sunday, February 07, 2010

What goes into our collection status decision when winter weather hits?

To run a normal collection schedule or not to run a normal collection schedule? That is the question!

What goes into our recycling and trash collection status decision when winter weather hits? The process begins at 4 a.m., when we send out two or three of our field staff as scouts. Their task is to drive around in their assigned area to check road conditions: how safe is it for big collection vehicles to be passing though neighborhood streets? On a normal day, we have about 100 trucks out and about.

Meanwhile, one of our Collections program managers is on his way into the office, taking a more roundabout route than usual so that he, too, can check on neighborhood streets. The scouts call in to the manager to share their findings. Together, the team develops a recommendation for that day’s collection service. What elements of our service will we be able to provide? Do we include yard trim collection, or suspend it for the day? Canceling yard trim pickups means 20 fewer trucks, and frees up those workers to supplement the recycling and trash crews.

By now, it’s approximately 5 a.m.

A new round of phone calls begins. Our manager contacts our contracted trash and recycling collection companies to find out what they think about the day’s weather with respect to providing pickup service, and to discuss the County’s recommendation. Because the companies’ managers have been on the road themselves, they are able to provide additional data points. In addition to road conditions, the County and company managers also consider the collection crew workers’ ability to get in to work.

Following these discussions, our program manager calls our Collections section chief for a final decision. Then, we activate our notification system for you! The program manager makes two more contacts: he emails the County’s Public Information Office, and he calls me.

By now, it is around 6 a.m.

I, in turn, get the word to you as quickly as possible by sending out emails to our announcement subscribers, and by updating our website, blog, and @TalkinTrashMC Twitter account.