(TNS) — What looks like a robotic arm is picking up fall leaves in this town’s neighborhoods.
For the past two years, the town has invested in new trucks that have automated hoses to vacuum up the fall leaves from residents’ yards. The town made the switch to the new trucks to increase their ground speed and efficiency — how cool it looks is just an added plus.
“We’re one of the few municipalities that does year-round yard waste collection,” said Town Supervisor David VanLuven. “[The trucks] are expensive, but we’re hopeful that in time it’ll serve us better and hopefully save us money.”
The town currently has four plow trucks with the new leaf vacuums, each of which cost $76,000, according to Highway Superintendent Marc Dorsey. But the trucks are considered to be more cost-efficient because each unit can hold twice as many ground-up leaves as the traditional trucks, and each truck only requires one or two workers — as opposed to the previous trucks’ need for three or four workers.
“Before, we had a smaller pull vacuum. You’d have one person working the hose, pushing it back and forth for eight straight hours, and then you usually would have a few people working beside that operator to rake the leaves into it,” VanLuven said. “It was much more labor-intensive.”
Updating the highway equipment was one of the platform points on Dorsey’s campaign when he ran for highway superintendent.
“The guys tell me this is night and day,” he said. “And with COVID and social distancing, it’s hard to have two guys for eight hours side-by-side. Now it’s one man who operates it … so we were able to increase our manpower to other services yet increase the frequency of leaf pickup.”
The leaves and brush the town collects are composted instead of dumped in a landfill.
“This is an ecologically responsible way of turning our yard waste [and food scraps] into high-quality compost and wood mulch products that build healthy soils and attractive landscapes,” said VanLuven. “Bulk sales of these products also generate revenue for the town.”
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