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garbage and recycling collection container study

Collection Options Study


The City of Sheboygan, Wisconsin was operating a residential garbage and recyclables collection system based on manual lifting and collection of materials from bags (purchased by residents). The City’s fleet of garbage and recycling trucks were reaching the end of their life cycle and the investment to replace them was very high. The City was facing increases in the cost of fuel, landfill tipping fees, salaries and benefits. Continued cuts in state recycling grants were forecasted. All of these economic trends were factoring into the long-term future of the City’s solid waste and recycling program. The City sought to objectively research the most effective method and equipment for collection of garbage and recyclables for its residents.


The City requested a cost analysis and implementation plan for converting their solid waste collection operations to fully automated collection. Foth provided an analysis comparing the costs and risks of City-provided services compared to out-sourced services.

Foth’s analysis included a phased timeline and implementation plan for the City to automate solid waste services. Our team reviewed existing routes, interviewed crews, and discussed safety and workers compensation information. We also prepared a plan to convert to an automated collection system. This plan consisting of equipment procurement strategies for both trucks and carts. The plan also included an outline for a complete education and outreach plan.


Foth provided a clear cost and benefit analysis that resulted in a City decision to convert to fully automated collection. Foth also recommended taking advantage of a recycling cart grant program through The Recycling Partnership. This program includes free technical assistance from The Partnership.

The Sheboygan Common Council voted to move forward with an automated garbage and recycling program that was implemented in 2020.  The system is safer for garbage collectors, will increase recycling and is more efficient.  “Worker health and safety is paramount with this program, as well as the overall cleanliness of the city,” said David Biebel, Director of Public Works for the city of Sheboygan.  The Council authorized the Department of Public Works to purchase seven new automated garbage and recycling trucks. Each household received carts for garbage and recycling. The new recycling carts eliminated the need for plastic bags for recycling.

The City received the “2020 Recycling Excellence – Projects and Initiatives Award” by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recognizing their automated garbage and recycling efforts.



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