- Augusta, ME city officials are considering limiting the allowable weight of residents' trash bags from 100 pounds to 40 pounds, which is closer to what most municipalities allow. They cite two main reasons: safety concerns and the heavy bags are falling apart, leaving trash behind, as reported in Centralmaine.com. An anticipated plus, the city said, is that tightening the weight limitation will open up trash hauling jobs to more people.
- The bags would not be weighed; rather monitoring will simply entail determining if workers can lift a bag without exerting excess effort.
- The proposed rule change will likely go to city councilors on Thursday.
Safety is center focus in solid waste management, especially this year, with the National Waste and Recycling Association and Solid Waste Association of North America investing in safety initiatives, in response to staggering statistics. Waste collection is the occupation with the fifth highest fatality rate in the U.S. 2016 has already seen its first garbage collector fatality, and Tuesday a garbage truck exploded.
In Augusta, at-large Councilor Dale McCormick touted the maximum allowable weight rule, saying that the current 100-pound limit is a workers' compensation claim waiting to happen.
Since the workers will not use scales, at-large Councilor Cecil Munson argued, some residents may question how they should determine if the bags are a permissible weight.
"This is where reasonableness comes in," City Manager William Bridgeo said, pointing out that if a resident can barely lift a bag, the trash hauler will likely have the same experience.