Trash crews crack down on how much you can dump

Lawton_The rules for picking up your trash are now a little stricter. The crews won't pick up the extra bags you leave lying around your trash can. It's an ordinance that's always been on the books -- but the city is now enforcing it. You're only allowed two 35-gallon trash cans and however much they can hold. So now they say if it's not in the can, it's not going in the truck.

Before people were leaving out just one extra bag, and then it became two, and now it's out of control. The solid waste superintendent says picking up trash around the city is like mowing 40 acres with a push mower -- yeah, it'll do the job, but it's going to be slow, and it'll be hard work.

City sanitation crews say they've reached the breaking point. People are putting out so much trash it's slowing them way down. "The guys have to get to about 1100, 1200 homes a day per truck," said Jim Bonnarens, the Solid Waste Superintendent. "And if we're sending them every 5 minutes they've got to stop 4 or 5 minutes at a residence, instead of pick up two cans and get down the road, we do increase overtime."

And that overtime costs the city. But many workers are also getting hurt by harmful items in those loose bags, which means more worker's comp claims, and even more costs to the city. And some of the trash is so large it's actually damaging the trucks, causing thousands of dollars in repairs -- another cost the city absorbs. "And at some point our request to our supervisors is we need more money," Bonnarens said. "And hopefully it doesn't come down to raising fees, and things like that, we're trying to do it in our budget."

So they're cracking down and enforcing the code. "The codes are designed not only to allow people a service, but it's also there to protect the employees from needle sticks, the community from looking like a landfill," he said.

They've allowed a grace period, so for now they're still picking up some extra trash, but they're leaving behind warnings. They say you need to abide by the code and get a second trash can, or make the trip to the landfill yourself. "You know, we just can't continue, if we continue that then everyone else should be allowed to do it, and we're getting away from that."

The only things you're allowed to have outside of your trash can are 5 bags of grass clippings. You can also leave tree limbs as long as they are bundled together and the length is shorter than five feet.

The city is also streamlining the quarterly clean-up process. You'll now have one designated week, instead of two, to put out your large items like mattresses and couches. That shorter time frame will allow crews to pick up everything at one time, without someone putting out trash after the crews have already swept through.