Waste Management moves forward with plans for automated waste pickup trucks

Posted 3/29/24

Automated Waste Management trucks will collect the waste while the driver stays in the vehicle.

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue. Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

Waste Management moves forward with plans for automated waste pickup trucks


OKEECHOBEE – Waste Management (WM) will roll out their new automated trucks in Okeechobee County later this year. These trucks collect the waste while the driver stays in the vehicle. The special waste carts used for this system will be provided by WM.

At the March 28 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commissioners, Deborah Perez of WM reviewed the timeline for the change.

Perez said WM plans to phase in the program over several months. County residents will receive post cards in the mail in May. Carts will be delivered by mid-June. Customers will be asked to start using the new carts when they receive them.  During the transition period, if a customer places bags of garbage outside the carts, WM will pick them up as a courtesy, but will leave the customer a note letting them know that once the automated trucks are on the road, waste must be in the carts.

Each resident will receive a green cart for household waste and a gray cart for yard debris such as leaves. Both carts are 96-gallon size, with wheels. In addition, WM will collect up to 4 cubic yards of stacked yard debris (such as tree branches) per week, as well as up to 4 cubic yards of large items such as refrigerators or furniture.

The green carts and gray carts will be emptied by different trucks, Perez explained.

The initial plan allows residents to obtain a second green household waste cart for $85.

Commission Chairman David Hazellief asked if those in the county could have the option of receiving two green carts instead of one green cart and one gray cart. Most people with large properties out in the county don’t need the gray carts, he said. Perez said she will take that request back to WM management.

Perez said when they deliver the carts, they will also provide customers with information about where and how to place the carts so they can be safely picked up by the automated trucks. She said they will also share information on social media.

In a related matter, Commissioner Terry Burroughs said they have received complaints about waste trucks leaving trash along Berman Road. He said they also have complaints that drivers do not cover their trucks when leaving the landfill, and any trash still in the truck blows out. “We do sweep the entrance and outside the entrance,” she said.

WM also hires third-party litter pickers who pick up trash along the road twice a week.

While it is a WM requirement that trucks be covered when they leave the landfill, enforcement has been an issue.

Commissioner Brad Goodbread said the littler pickers may just be picking up what is on the shoulder of the road. They need to clean up a wider area, he said. “They’re picking up some trash, but they’re not getting all of it.”

He said truck drivers don’t like to cover an empty trailer because it is hard on the tarps. “It really beats them up,” he said. Hazellief said if they don’t cover their trailers, it is the responsibility of the driver to sweep them out before they leave the landfill so there is no trash to blow out onto the road.

Hazellief said the trash pickers are not efficient.  He said they drive down the road in a pickup and stop if they see trash to pick up. “They’re missing a lot of the trash,” he said.

Commissioner Frank DeCarlo said he received a complaint from a customer who had been fined due to an overfilled commercial dumpster. He said businesses have problems with people putting garbage in their dumpsters, which usually happens when the business is closed.

Perez said there is a reason for the fine for overfilled dumpsters; If the dumpster is overfilled and the lid will not close, when the truck picks it up, the garbage will go everywhere.  She said businesses have the option to have the dumpster emptied more frequently. WM also has the option for businesses to use locking dumpsters. The business owner is given a key for the dumpster. The WM drivers have a universal key to unlock the dumpsters for emptying.