Garbage Removal Systems New Technology Minimizes the Mess and Lowers Labor Costs

Garbage Removal Systems

emember when all your garbage was discarded into the refuse container, never to be seen again?

The age of environmental awareness has not only forced the development of new ways to recycle refuse, but also new ways to dispose of it. Adaptation is difficult enough on an individual level, but for co-op and condo boards, the challenge is to ensure compliance with new recycling regulations for entire buildings. Today's innovative technology has alleviated this burden with effective solutions for garbage removal systems in co-ops and condos.

Violations Carry Fines

New York City as a whole recycles 2,300 tons of curbside garbage per day, says Lucian Chalfen, Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs at the New York City Department of Sanitation. That's 15 percent of all residential garbage collected, making ours the most successful program of any large city in the country. The program for multi-unit buildings consists of the following regulations: posting signs with specific recycling instructions; maintenance of a tenant-accessible recycling area, complete with proper containers for sorting; removal of garbage and non-recyclables from designated recycling containers; tying newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and phone books for collection; and flattening and tying corrugated cardboard boxes for collection. The first violation notice of these rules carries with it a $25 fine; four or more notices within six months will cost $500 each.

Avoidance of fines and effective recycling efforts in co-ops and condos differ from building to building, depending on size. Smaller buildings, like brownstones, usually have no specialized facilities for garbage removal other than the required recycling areas. Carol Ferrara, president of Carol Ferrara Associates, manages over 40 small to medium-sized buildings. Her system is staffed by visiting superintendents who transfer garbage from designated areas to the street on pick-up days.

Making Compliance Easier

In order for the system to work, residents must comply; responsiveness has been mixed. Because recycling areas are outside, Sometimes people dump and run, or throw garbage over the fence, says Ferrara. She has noticed that those who were sloppy with their garbage before recycling are the same ones who are lax about compliance. Her perspective simplifies the issue: It's the same amount of garbage, just placed in different containers.

Superintendents sometimes complain that it takes hours to remove the garbage, she says. This is why when initial recycling is done correctly, it saves not only time, but money. She realizes, however, that Different rules for different places may confuse people, like the difference between office and home recycling. This is why communicating the laws to residents is key to making all removal systems work.

In larger buildings, garbage removal is more complicated. Some high-rises have designated areas on each floor with canisters for garbage and recycling, while others have trash chutes and compactor systems. Santos Tricoche, building superintendent at 180 Riverside Drive, which has 14 floors and 84 units, utilizes the canister system. Individual bins are placed at the back door of each unit. The maintenance staff transports the garbage and recyclables on Tuesdays and Fridays to the basement, where it stay ffb s until pick-up days. He has found this system to be very effective. Everyone is more aware of the environment, as seen by the quantity of materials being recycled and the way they're recycling, like properly cleaning containers, says Tricoche.

Most larger buildings utilize compactor and chute systems for garbage disposal, with recycling bins placed in designated areas. The technology of compactor systems has remained relatively constant over the years, but the numerous makes and models have not. Scientific Compactor Corporation, the largest compactor distributor in the Northeast, makes all compactor choices available. We are unique because we can service every make and model. Our extensive parts inventory includes older parts that are no longer being made, says Irwin Sandler, president.

An Innovative System

There is now a new alternative for recycling in multi-story buildings. The Hi-Rise Recycling System (HIRI), created by Hi-Rise Recycling Systems, Inc., a Miami, Florida-based company that's recently entered the New York City marketplace, eliminates the need for a separate recycling area by allowing residents to drop both garbage and separated materials directly down existing trash chutes. With the push of a button on a control panel on each floor, containers at the bottom of the chute rotate on a turntable mechanism to collect the desired recyclable material. For example, when pressing glass on the panel, the glass bin will rotate to collect bottles thrown down the chute.

HIRI was invented by Mark Shantzis, who wanted to recycle in his own high-rise before laws enforced it. At that time, recyclables were brought to recycling centers. Logic told him that there had to be an easier wayand he found it!

There are only two ways to get recyclables downstairsgravity or labor. Trash chutes are obsolete as far as recyclables are concerned. Labor is costly and gets more expensive every year, says Shantzis. The HIRI system is the only smart choice. In addition to being more efficient, HIRI boasts many cost benefits over floor to floor recycling. It not only eliminates the cost of additional labor required to move recyclables from trash rooms to dumpsters, but also helps reduce worker's compensation insurance premiums, elevator maintenance costs, carpet and floor cleaning expenses and the need for additional pest control.

The first HIRI system was installed in 1991 in Le Trianon, a 23-story building in Miami. This prototype, which cost approximately $45,000, allowed the building to reduce annual labor costs by over $15,000. In fact, the HIRI system eliminated the building's need to hire an additional employee who would have spent five hours a day performing recycling tasks.

According to Shantzis, making the decision to abandon the outmoded, labor intensive method of floor-to-floor recycling pick-up in favor of a HIRI system is very much like the decision to buy a new car. When you trade in your old M-clunker,' you don't focus on the cost of the new car, he explains. You look at how much you'll be required to spend monthly. When you factor in all the money you'll be saving on repairs and aggravation, you realize you're actually spending less.

Shantzis estimates that the average New York City co-op or condo, which has 15 floors and about 150 units, can anticipate a total savings in labor costs of between $10,000 and $40,000 per year. It would cost each apartment under $10 a month, he says, to lease the system. The average lease is for seven years. At the end of that time, you own the equipment.

HIRI is now specified in 80 percent of all new high-rise construction in South Floridaimpressive statistics as they begin expansion into the New York City marketplace. However, retrofitsinstallation in existing buildingsare where the majority of their business comes from. In July, 1995, St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital Center became the first New York City high-rise to install Hi-Rise's system.

Education Fosters Cooperation

Recycling is a program we will live with for the rest of our lives, s a57 ays Shantzis. Do we want floor to floor recycling to be the long-term solution when there is now an easier way?

The key to success with any garbage removal system is education. Building superintendents and resident managers agree that communicating the requirements of recycling laws, with mailings or notices to residents, is the first step in improving your building's system. Lucian Chalfen agrees: The easier you make something, the more likely it is that people will comply.

Mr. Knickerbocker is a freelance writer living in Manhattan.

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