New trash service is up and running, but some Highland residents are still up in arms

News that the new trash collection procedures will be fully in effect this week did not sit well with some Highland residents, who came to the council meeting to reiterate objections.

Under the city’s contract with Republic Services, Highland began the transition to containerized service, using large cans compatible with the automated trucks. Residents were provided two 95-gallon carts, including one for recycling.

Residents have complained about the size of the cans as well as the fact that some who used to have their trash collected in alleys will now have to take their cans to the front curb. The reason for that, explained City Manager Chris Conrad, is that the Republic trucks are more likely to cause property damage going down narrow alleys and it’s safer to keep them on the main streets.

Some residents have expressed concern for senior citizens hauling the large, heavy cans to the street. Conrad said that within the month they expect to have delivery of smaller 65-gallon containers that will also be compatible with the automated trucks.

As to concerns about storms, “No matter how big or small the can, a storm is going to throw things around,” Conrad said.

Conrad said that when they sought waste collection bids, Republic was the only bidder. At the time, however, he said they knew whichever bidder they chose would want to go to containerized service.

“We are one of the last communities to do this,” he said. However, that meant that they had the benefit of learning from other towns’ experience. They were happy to keep curbside recycling and were able to negotiate Republic from five bags of yard waste a week to eight.

“I know it feels like we didn’t engage the community in this decision, but when there’s only one bidder… it doesn’t exactly put you in the driver’s seat for negotiations,” Conrad said.

For people who do have issues with getting the cans to their designated pickup spots, Conrad said to contact city staff. While some have tried to call Republic directly, Conrad said they have a dedicated customer service representative and can get through more easily to find a solution for those who are older or infirm.

They can contact the city of Highland at 618-654-9891 and press option 3, or visit Highlandil.gov.