Wildlife Resistant Garbage Collection Program

Background

In 2018, the multi-agency Valdez Bear Working Group began development of a bear management plan to help create a sustainable relationship between humans and bears in the Valdez area. The group researched and explored many options to help mitigate dangerous and nuisance wildlife encounters. One of the group’s top priorities was the need to develop and maintain an effective wildlife resistant municipal solid waste management system.

At the same time, City public works began researching ways to improve safety and efficiency for the different methods of household garbage collection around town, including curbside collection and dumpster services.

Following a lengthy research process which compared multiple products and similar municipalities, a proposal was made to Valdez City Council in April 2019, suggesting implementation of a new community garbage collection program. During the 2020 budget process, City Council approved appropriation of funding for a new program.

In February 2020, City Council adopted Ordinance #20-01 creating municipal code to implement the new garbage collection program. City Council also approved the purchase of the first order of wildlife resistant garbage containers.

The program - which involves no direct cost to residents - consists of two phases:

  • Phase 1 (Summer/Fall 2020): Shift to curbside household garbage collection using wildlife resistant containers issued by the City. Shift to automated garbage pick-up instead of manual pick-up by City sanitation workers.

  • Phase 2 (Spring 2021): Community use dumpster pod program (no changes to commercial/rental dumpster programs)

The new wildlife resistant garbage collection program meets the following goals of both the City and the multi-agency Valdez Bear Working Group:

  • Mitigation of environmental (wind, snow, etc.) and wildlife (bears, birds, etc.) hazards related to household trash collection.
  • Automated, safe and hygienic curbside household trash collection.
  • Mitigation of injury risk for City sanitation workers related to manual lifting and riding on the back of garbage trucks.
  • Maintaining low costs to residents for household garbage collection through operational efficiency.

Curbside Collection Program Begins: October 31, 2020 (Containers distributed prior to this time.)
Dumpster Pod Program Begins: Spring 2021 (Exact date TBD)

Enacting Legislation: City of Valdez Ordinance #20-01, Amending Title 8, Chapter 8.08 Titled Garbage Collection and Disposal (Click here to view the ordinance.)

Click here to watch the City Council work session and view meeting materials regarding the new container program.

Click below to watch the City Council meetings regarding Ordinance #20-01.
Link to First Reading/Public Hearing.
Link to Second Reading/Adoption.

New Curbside Garbage Container Program – The Basics

ROC_95G Bear Cart_Valdez_ISO

Effective October 31, 2020, curbside household garbage collection will shift to the new automated garbage collection system using wildlife resistant containers issued by the City.

  • After October 31, 2020, household garbage left on the curb in other types of containers will not be collected by the City.
  • Those who do not wish to utilize curbside service using the new containers, may continue to use any of the multiple public dumpsters throughout town for free.
  • Residents may also take their household trash directly to the Baler facility during normal business hours. There is no fee for disposing of household trash at the Baler.
  • No changes to Wednesday brush/yard debris curbside collection procedures.

Residential properties eligible for curbside household garbage collection may sign-up to rent one new wildlife resistant garbage container at no cost to the resident.

  • Free containers will remain City property, rented to the residence.
  • Rental containers are blue with a black lid and an imprint of the City logo.

Additional containers may be purchased on a first come, first served basis, subject to availability.

  • The price to purchase a second container is at cost to the City, which is currently approximately $280. This cost is subject to change over time.
  • Purchased containers become the property of the resident.
  • Purchased containers are black with a black lid. (No imprint of City logo.)

Both rental and purchased containers are only available to residential properties located within Valdez City limits.

Each container will be assigned to a residence address and include a uniquely numbered tag to help the City track the container in the event it is lost or stolen.

  • Rental containers will also be labeled with the residence address. When a home changes owners/tenants, a new container agreement form will need to be filled out at City Hall for the rental container. Rental containers remain with the residence. Citizens may not take their rental container to a new residence.
     
  • Purchased containers are considered personal property and may follow their owner to a new property. Owners may label their container with their property address, if desired.

Registration for the new curbside garbage container program began March 16, 2020.

Those homes which currently utilize curbside service receive priority for program registration and will receive a courtesy door hanger on their residence with information and an agreement form. All other households can sign-up on a first come, first served basis as supplies last. A waitlist will be implemented, if necessary. Additional containers will be ordered if there is enough interest from the community.

Tips for Successful Garbage Collection

  • Use the city issued wildlife resistant container.
  • Place your container out by 9:00 a.m. on your service day.
  • Place your container within two feet of the curb on a level surface, with the cart wheels facing the house. An ideal location to place your container is at the end of your driveway.
  • Place your container at least two feet away from permanent structures like mailboxes, walls, lamp posts, utility boxes, vehicles, etc.
  • Place your container at least two feet away from other containers.
  • Make sure nothing is between your cart and the street.
  • Avoid placing the cart near low hanging tree branches.
  • Avoid overfilling the container. 
  • Avoid placing items on top of or next to the container.
  • Keep the container lock clean and free of debris so it latches properly.

Click here to download the wildlife-resistant garbage container agreement form.

  • Paper agreement forms are available in the entryway at Valdez City Hall.
  • Agreement Forms may be submitted via:
    • Drop Box located in the entryway at Valdez City Hall (212 Chenega Avenue)
    • Mail to City of Valdez, c/o WRC Program, PO Box 307, Valdez AK 99686
    • Email to WRCProgram@valdezak.gov
  • Purchase of additional containers must be coordinated through the front office at City Hall and are subject to availability. (The Baler facility and City shop cannot accept payments.)
  • There is no deadline to complete an agreement form and sign-up for the program. However, after October 31, 2020, only household garbage in the wildlife-resistant garbage containers will be collected curbside.

Wildlife resistant container delivery to residential properties will occur prior to October 31, 2020. City public works staff will directly contact each residence with a valid container agreement to schedule a delivery date and time.

After October 31, 2020, only household garbage in the wildlife-resistant garbage containers will be collected curbside.

Residential Curbside Collection Schedule

Curbside collection is currently free for Valdez residential properties.

Curbside Service Weekly Schedule:

Tuesday Collection Day: Alaska Court, Dewey Court, Kotsina Court, Broadway Court, Homestead Road, Blueberry Hill Road, Iditarod, Jago, Klutina, Lowe, Mendeltna, Nebesna, Qumalik, Hanagita, Robe River Drive, Gulkana, Foraker, Eklutna, Dadina, Chena, Bremner, Mineral Creek Loop Road, and Richardson Highway (town to Airport Road).

Wednesday Collection Day: Richardson Highway (Airport Road to City limits), Airport Road, 9th Street, Aleutian Village Mobile Home Park, Valdez Mobile Home Park, Corbin Creek Subdivision, Robe River Subdivision, and Alpine Woods Subdivision.

Thursday Collection Day: Resurrection Loop, Tonsina Lane, Wortmanns Lane, Shoup Lane, Keno Circle, Chilkat Circle, Birch Circle, Aspen Circle, Winter Park Circle, Clark Avenue, Valhalla Lane, Chistochina Lane, South Moraine, South Snowtree, South Waterfall, South Glacier, South Whirlway, Coho Place, Cottonwood Drive, North Glacier, North Waterfall, North Snowtree, North Moraine, Copper Street, West Hanagita, Ptarmigan Place, Mineral Creek Road, Mineral Creek Plaza, Cliffside Court, West Klutina, West Oumalik, West Nabesna, West Mendeltna, West Lowe, Pacific Avenue, and Woodside Drive.

If you do not see your street on the list above, contact the Baler facility for additional information.

New Dumpster Pod Program

Starting in spring 2021, the City will start a "dumpster pod" program similar to transfer stations found in other Alaskan communities. Instead of single dumpsters located in many locations throughout town, pods or groups of dumpsters will be placed in multiple locations downtown and one location within each subdivision. Pods allow for faster, more frequent trash collection by City solid waste workers and help limit areas of interest for bears and other wildlife. Household garbage disposal in a dumpster pod is free for both residents and visitors. The dumpster pod program does not impact commercial dumpster rental processes or fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What will this new wildlife resistant container look like? How big are they? How do they work? ROC_95G Bear Cart _Valdez_SIDE

A: The new 95-gallon, rolling wildlife resistant containers are manufactured by Rehrig Pacific Company. Containers weigh 45lbs and are 42.75” high, 30.25” wide, and 34.5” deep. Wheels are extra-large and field tested for compatibility with northern climates.

The containers are certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) as bear resistant. IGBC certification means the containers have met minimum standards related to the effort which must be expended by grizzly bears to access the container’s contents.

Click here to learn more about IGBC certification 

Click here to watch a bear conducting official IGBC testing on the wildlife garbage container model selected by the city. 

Additionally, the container is designed with residents in mind – an ergonomic locking mechanism allows the container to be easily opened by humans with one hand, but prevents bears, birds and other wildlife from accessing its contents. The locking mechanism also prevents lost lids and trash being blown around during wind events.

On trash collection day, residents will place their new container along the curb at the end of their driveway. The City garbage trucks, outfitted with an automated lifting mechanism, will grab the container, lift it over the truck so the gravity lock opens the lid, dump its contents into the truck, and lower it back to the ground so the lid closes and locks.

Click here to view full Rehrig wildlife resistant container specifications

Click here to view a presentation from Rehrig with details about automated garbage collection.

Q: Do I have to get one of the new wildlife resistant containers? Why can’t I just use my own garbage cans I’ve always used?

A: Effective October 31, 2020, curbside household garbage collection will shift to the new automated garbage collection system using the IGBC certified wildlife-resistant containers.

After October 31, 2020, household garbage left on the curb in other types of containers will not be collected by the City. Residents could be fined for leaving out garbage unattended in a non-approved container.

Those who do not wish to utilize curbside service using the new containers, may continue to use any of the multiple public dumpsters throughout town for free.

Residents may also take their household trash directly to the Baler facility during normal business hours. There is no fee for disposing of household trash at the Baler. No changes to brush/yard debris curbside collection. 

Q: Have you tested these new containers locally to see if they will actually work in Valdez?

A: Yes. The City tested use of a container with several different households during both the summer and winter seasons. One household of five (two adults, three children) reported the container was more than big enough to hold the trash generated by the family. They reported it was not difficult to roll the full dumpster down the driveway to the curb, nor was it difficult to roll in snowy conditions up or down an inclined driveway.

Q: I’ve never participated in curbside garbage service. With these new containers, I am definitely interested. Can I participate?

A: Yes, absolutely! Current curbside service customers will be given priority with this first order of wildlife resistant containers. However, all eligible residences may sign-up on a first come, first served basis with a waiting list. The City ordered 1,040 containers to begin the program.

Q: Will the new containers be required year-round or just during summer/bear season?

A: Year round. The new containers help deter all types of wildlife including ravens and eagles. They are also heavier than traditional trash cans and include a locking mechanism. Thus, they will be less likely to fly away or spread trash during a wind event. 

Q: I don’t want to rent a container, I would rather just purchase one outright and not have to worry about returning it to the City. Can I do that?

A: Yes. You may purchase a container on a first come, first served basis, subject to availability.

Q: What kind of trash will be accepted in the new containers?

A: Household trash only. 

Cardboard can be broken down and placed in the new containers. However, do not wedge or cram the cardboard into the container as it will not empty properly with the automated collection system.

Contact the Baler facility for instructions on how to properly and legally dispose of yard debris, hazardous materials and construction materials.

Q: Once I rent one of the new containers, what do I do with my old garbage cans?

A: Bring your old garbage cans to the Baler facility and the City will dispose of them for you at no cost. If you are not able to transport your old garbage cans to the Baler, contact City public works for assistance.

You can also repurpose your old can for other uses. City public works will accept curbside yard debris and organic waste only in your old can. Please place yard debris and organic waste loose in the can (do not bag). Curbside yard debris collection is on Wednesdays.

Q: Is the City buying new garbage trucks for the program?

A: No. Two garbage trucks in the City fleet will be retrofitted with equipment to allow automated pick-up of the new curbside containers. The new equipment allows the driver of the truck to operate the pick-up equipment from inside the cab. This will alleviate the need for a second employee to ride on the back of the garbage truck to dump cans, which improves safety and efficiency.

Q: Does the efficiency with the new automated system mean we will have more than weekly curbside service?

A: City public works will use the new system through summer 2021. 

In fall 2021, the curbside pick-up schedule will be evaluated to determine additional opportunities for service.

Q: How much will this program cost me? How much is the program saving the City?

A: There is no cost to the resident enrolling in the program unless they voluntarily choose to purchase additional containers. Curbside household trash collection is also free for residential properties within Valdez City limits.

The approximate initial cost of the program to the City is $315,000, which includes the first order of 680 curbside containers, automated container equipment to retrofit two garbage trucks, and travel/training for public works staff to learn how to safely operate the equipment.

Savings due to operational efficiencies will offset the costs associated with the program in less than two years.

Q: I heard the new containers lock. I am worried my children or pets could become trapped inside. Do the containers prevent against accidental entrapment?

A: Yes. The containers are ANSI certified and have an interior safety switch to unlock the container from the inside.

Q: Where do I store my new container?

A: The new containers are wildlife resistant, so can be stored either outside your residence or in the location where your current garbage cans are stored. Containers may only be placed curbside on collection days.

Q: What happens if my new container gets lost or stolen?

A: If your container is accidentally damaged, please call the Baler facility for assistance. 

If your container is stolen or intentionally damaged, please call the Valdez Police Department non-emergency line to report the issue. Municipal code includes fines for stealing or damaging the wildlife resistant containers. If evidence proves your container was stolen or intentionally damaged by someone outside your household, provide your VPD case number to the Baler facility and your container will be replaced by the City at no cost to you.

Q: I have physical limitations and am worried I will not be able to roll the new containers from my house to the street. What should I do?

A: Please contact the Baler facility and they will work with you to provide assistance on collection days.

Q: I own several properties around town. Can I receive one rental container for each property?

A: Yes. One container may be rented at each physical address. Additional containers may be purchased subject to availability. Apartment buildings and other larger multi-family dwellings will still need to rent a dumpster.

Q: What is the replacement cycle for the new containers?

A: The lifecycle of the Rehrig containers is approximately 10 years based on normal wear and tear. City public works will contact the resident directly with instructions on how to replace rental containers at the end of its lifecycle. 

Q: I heard I am responsible for keeping my wildlife resistant container clean or I could be fined. What exactly does that mean?

A: Please bag all of your household trash when you place it in your new container. If you place loose trash, fish carcasses, dog poop or other waste in the container without a bag, it can cause health hazards and issues with garbage collection equipment, as well as attract wildlife.

Liners for the new containers may only be used if they do not block the locking mechanism.

It is your responsibility to keep your container in clean and sanitary condition. If you forget, please clean your container right away with regular soap and water – no special detergent required.

Q: Why was the program start date extended to October 31, 2020? What exactly does that mean?

A: Unfortunately, the city experienced a delay in delivery of garbage truck modification equipment due to current national events. This equipment will be used to retrofit our existing trucks and allow for automated pick-up of the new containers. Because of this delay and the need to order additional containers due to the popularity of the program, we are extending the program start date from June 1st to October 31st.

If you already received your new garbage container, the extension does not effect you. Place your new container on the curb on your collection day, and your garbage will be dumped into the garbage truck by hand.

If you have not yet received your container or have not signed up, the extension provides you another month to do so. You can use your old garbage containers until October 31st without penalty.

Q: Why did my garbage not get collected? 

A: In order for your garbage to be successfully collected, please follow these tips:

  • Use the city issued wildlife resistant container.
  • Place your container out by 9:00 a.m. on your service day.
  • Place your container within two feet of the curb on a level surface, with the cart wheels facing the house. An ideal location to place your container is at the end of your driveway.
  • Place your container at least two feet away from permanent structures like mailboxes, walls, lamp posts, utility boxes, vehicles, etc.
  • Place your container at least two feet away from other containers.
  • Make sure nothing is between your cart and the street.
  • Avoid placing the cart near low hanging tree branches.
  • Avoid overfilling the container. 
  • Avoid placing items on top of or next to the container.
  • Keep the container lock clean and free of debris so it latches properly.

Will My Trash Be Collected_

Q: I have other questions not answered on this page. Who do I contact for additional information?

A: For garbage collection, wildlife resistant container, or dumpster pod questions, please contact either City public works at (907) 835-4473 or Baler facility staff at (907) 835-2356. 

For questions related to enforcement and fines, please contact the Valdez Police Department non-emergency line at
(907) 835-4560.