Friday, May 24, 2024

Leavenworth makes moves to improve downtown garbage collection with “smart” bins


LEAVENWORTH – After getting City Council approval during the Feb. 13 meeting, Public Works Staff are planning to lease and install 55 new garbage bins for the downtown corridor. 

The bins will be leased for 60 months from Bigbelly Solar, LLC. Of the 55 bins, 45 will be Sense Max Bins, which can compact trash in order to accommodate up to 150 gallons. They will replace most of the current downtown trash cans, which only have a 32-gallon capacity.

“This is gonna be a big help for operations,” said Public Works Director Tom Wachholder during the meeting.

The City will also be investing in 10 Smart Max bins, which are more expensive but can both compact trash and send alerts when nearing its 150-gallon capacity.

“These have proprietary technology that senses the level of the garbage and can send an alert to our staff so that we can avoid the situation we had in late November, early December this year when we weren't expecting our tourism to be as high as it was and we ended up having bins that were overflowing with stacks trash all around them,” said Public Works Deputy Director Andi Zonteck-Backstrum during the meeting.

Communications and Special Projects Manager Kara Raftery says staff are currently deciding how to strategically place the 10 Smart Max Bins in order to be most effective.

“A few adjustments to final placement may occur to best serve the needs of downtown while addressing accessibility with our automated garbage truck,” added Raftery.

The bins will have a one-time shipping fee of $11,630 and will incur a total monthly cost of $5,790 to lease. However, the staff report estimated the bins would save Public Works approximately 31 in staff hours per week, equivalent to saving approximately $7,300 per month. This is partly due to their capacity and sensors, but the bins can also be emptied using the City’s automated garbage truck, saving staff from manually changing out bags. The design also makes the bins animal-resistant by preventing direct access to previously disposed waste.

City staff do not have a set date as to when the bins will be installed but are anticipating the bins will be ready prior to Maifest, as Bigbelly delivery estimates a 4 to 6-week delivery time. However, this may change due to unforeseen delivery or installation coordination delays.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or


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