Have you wondered whether daytime or nighttime is better for trash collections? While many would not think too carefully about it, it is an issue of debate for urban management and there are compelling reasons for both sides.
The city of Fukuoka, Japan, promotes nighttime collections on its website. Their colorful infographic on the municipality’s website features arguments for nighttime collection, which includes aesthetics and reduction of traffic jams. Whether we are talking about street bins on busy streets or large dumpsters for households in residential areas, people don’t want to see bins overflowing with trash on their way to work or see trash collection during the day; they want to start the day fresh and clean with emptied bins. With big trucks having to stop on the curbside to collect trash, this worsens traffic congestion during the daytime. Lastly, they argue that the presence of trucks going around at night contributes to security and crime prevention.
There are other municipalities that support Fukuoka’s claims. When the Gangdong district of Seoul, Korea became the first district in Seoul to implement daytime collections while the rest of Seoul (and pretty much the rest of the country) have nighttime collections, there was an influx of complaints from residents that view daytime collections as an eyesore. The webpage of Hoboken, New Jersey states that it, along with many other municipalities in New Jersey, has trash collections take place during nighttime to avoid causing traffic. Looking at these cases, one may easily conclude that nighttime collection is the way to go.
Yet nighttime collection also has its downsides. The aforementioned webpage of Hoboken, NJ has a defensive tone, especially when explaining that reverse signal alarms are required by federal and state law, which implies that it does get complaints. In fact, the most common complaint with nighttime collection is the noise. No one wants to hear the beeps of a large truck backing up or the thud of bins in the middle of the night.
Another and arguably more important argument for daytime collection concerns the safety and well-being of hard-working members of our society—the sanitation workers. With darkness impairing vision at night, accidents are also more likely to happen. This is the primary reason why municipalities choose daytime collections, despite being aware of its problems and the benefits of nighttime collection.
When thinking about the optimal time for trash collections, do we have to compromise the safety of sanitation workers for the convenience and preference of residents or vice versa? As a data-driven, yet human-focused company, our mission is to develop solutions that consider human values while securing efficiency. A municipality has no choice but to dispatch collection services even when the time is not convenient (at peak traffic hours during the day or when everyone is asleep) because it must make sure all the bins for the day are emptied. Our solution is to focus not only on when collections need to be made, but also how often these collections are occurring. If a city was able to deploy haulers for collections less frequently, they will most likely be able to avoid collecting at the busiest or less desirable times. Daytime collectors can avoid busy commuting hours and nighttime collectors (with other measures for sanitation workers’ safety) can avoid hours when most should be in deep sleep. With compacting bins that reduce generated waste volume and sensors that notify when bins are ready for pickup, this solves the issue of unsightly waste overflow.
Very often when it seems that one must make a choice between two trade-offs, the better solution is an advancement that helps exceed that limitation and break such trade-off. Ecube Labs can offer that in waste management.