On May 7th Whitemarsh Township’s Board of Supervisors is holding a departmental meeting. Within the agenda, which includes reports from each department for the first quarter of 2020, is a proposal to video monitor trash, recycling, and yard waste collection in the township.
Based on the proposal, there appears to be a question of whether J.P. Mascaro & Sons is not living up to its contract or whether residents are reporting problems that aren’t actually problems. It could also be a mix of both.
Below is the text of the proposal:
Things continue to ebb and flow with trash, recycling, and yard waste collection. I recently purchased a dashboard camera that can be used to randomly monitor collections. Monitoring collections will allow the Township to keep residents and our contractor honest about several key issues. Our two most common complaints are missed trash/recycling/yard waste, and comingling trash/recycling/yard waste. These complaints are a result of one of the following scenarios:
1) Mascaro is truly missing collection points. This could be caused by:
a) Inattentiveness by crews
b) Willful action by the contractor (willfully missing streets in order to speed up collections, decrease volume, etc.).
2) Residents are not truthfully reporting a miss:
a) Misreporting by residents (falsely reporting a miss when trash/recycling/yard waste was not out at the time of collection.)
1) Mascaro is truly comingling trash/recycling/yard waste. This could be caused by:
a) Inattentiveness by crews (inability to decipher between receptacles).
b) Dishonest actions by the contractor (willfully mixing missed items with whatever truck to save time or energy).
2) Residents do not know what they are witnessing:
a) The most commonly reported comingled items are yard waste with recycling, or trash with recycling. When I last monitored the route, I noticed that yard waste is collected by emptied Recycling Trucks. Residents may assume that yard waste emptied into a truck labeled “Recycling” is being mixed when in fact the truck is only loading yard waste. Similarly, a resident with similar looking trash and recycling receptacles may assume that our contractor is able to identify their contents.
In order to address these issues and ensure that the Township’s contract is being followed, I propose ongoing video monitoring of the route. Ongoing video monitoring keeps us informed of the collection route used by crews (which often changes), the level of service, and allows us to verify misses and false reports of misses. Video monitoring can also be targeted at areas where complaints are received often to troubleshoot solutions.
Finally, if the Township feels that the contract is not being followed, video evidence provides irrefutable evidence of missed addresses, or comingling.
Generally speaking, Mascaro is rarely inclined to change their operations unless pressure is applied at higher levels. I believe the following solutions represent low-cost, low-energy solutions to some of the issues mentioned above. However, I believe these requests will need to be made above my level in order to be heard and implemented:
– On yard waste collection days, Mascaro uses trucks normally reserved for recycling collection. Two magnetic signs per truck labeled “Yard Waste” could be placed over the area reading “Recycling” and would likely lower the number of reports for comingling.
– Use video evidence from “random route monitoring” to tactfully inform residents who falsly report misses that they need to have their items out on time, or;
-Use video evidence from “random route monitoring” to identify service pitfalls with our contractor.