Ask ELi: What’s With the Rented Garbage Trucks?

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Rental truck operated by City of East Lansing workers spotted in the Glencairn neighborhood in November 2019.

Several ELi readers have asked why their garbage or recycling seems to be getting picked up using trucks that are not owned by the City of East Lansing. One rumor circulating has been that the relatively new hybrid-energy recycling truck is too expensive to maintain. (East Lansing was an early adopter of that truck’s model.) Another is that a City worker rolled the hybrid recycling truck.

Let’s start with the rollover rumor.

According to East Lansing’s Environmental Services Administrator Cathy DeShambo, “Last fall, during bulk leaf collection, one of our rear-load trucks got caught on a soft shoulder of a drive to drop off a load of leaves and did tip over (it didn’t roll over) into a ditch. No one was injured, and the truck sustained minimal damage that has been repaired.”

That was not the hybrid recycling truck. DeShambo also says the hybrid recycling truck is doing fine.

“The hybrid truck continues to run as the City’s main recycling truck, although we do usually have an additional truck picking up part of a recycling route each day, as well, due to our large volume.”

The City of East Lansing’s hybrid recycling truck shortly after it was purchased in 2015.

Says DeShambo, “The hybrid truck receives the same regular preventative maintenance and occasional repair as any other truck in our fleet, no more or less, and there are no costly repairs that are slated or needed on this truck currently. The hybrid truck has been dependable and consistent, and has not been involved in a roll over.”

So what’s with the rent-a-trucks picking up the garbage that we’ve been seeing since last fall? DeShambo says there’s actually one rental truck, and it’s been rented “to help bridge a gap as two of our automated trash trucks are up for replacement. While we ordered those trucks to be built in a timely manner, the pandemic has caused delays in many sectors of society, and manufacturing is one of those areas.”

The Department of Public Works is hoping to have the new trucks in June and July, but “we were experiencing more frequent break downs with the current two trash trucks (as they are at the end of their useful life) and it was concerning enough that we made the decision to bring on a rental truck to bridge the gap.”

ELi reported yesterday that residents say their carts are unusually full with the stay-at-home orders, but that the City won’t be offering extra pick-ups.

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