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Asking For Space in Cedar Rapids: Keeping Trash Containers Apart

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The weekly ritual of trudging from the garage or the side of a home to roll out the trash cart, the recycling cart and the yardy is one tens of thousands of Cedar Rapidians engage in.

Likely an exercise that doesn’t elicit much thought, especially on placement.

City leaders are asking residential customers to make sure there’s enough space between the carts.

“It’s not something that is at the top of the mind,” said Megan Murphy, public information officer for the city’s solid waste and recycling division. “We’re asking people to spend a little time and energy thinking about this and leaving three feet between containers.”

This comes as, with the spring thaw, more and more of the “yardy” carts are filling up with yard waste, often leading people to close the space between containers when being set out.

Add in more of the automated trash collectors. The result in some places? Streets where the containers can get knocked over like bowling pins, leading to unhappy customers and also a slowdown in the collection process. These automated vehicles are often staffed by a single person, with full control of the automated arm to pick up a container.

“It really does slow down a lot,” said Murphy. “The more people who put their carts closer together, it does slow down. The driver has to stop, get out of the truck, move the carts apart, get back in the car to empty it before moving on. Compared with just stopping, lifting with the (automated) arm, it’s a big hassle.”

On Friday, a handful of containers on the city’s southeast side for collection day had white and red stickers to remind customers to “KEEP CLEAR 3-5 FEET” on top.

Makayla Kaune, of Cedar Rapids, said she actually thinks about spacing when setting the containers out.

“I know, if you put them too close together, they wouldn’t take it from me,” said Kaune.

While certainly not a life-threatening issue in Cedar Rapids, this can be one of sanitation as well as sanity.

“That’s where we are starting to see more automated trucks within the (fleet) and more issues with it.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8609;

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