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New curbside refuse collection service begins this summer

The City of Grand Rapids plans to integrate a pay-as-you-throw curbside service for refuse using recycled plastic carts provided to the customer at no charge.
City Manager, Gregory Sundstrom, explains proposed Refuse Collection Service changes.

City Manager, Gregory Sundstrom, explains proposed Refuse Collection Service changes. /Julie Davidson-Golinski

Underwriting support from:

For More Information

Visit the City's website


James Hurt, Public Services Director

Connie Bohatch, Managing Director of Community Services: 456-3677

Greg Sundstrom, City Manager: 456-3166


Or call:  City's Public Services Department at 456-3232



Beginning July 1st, the city will offer curbside refuse collection services using a micro-chipped 'smart cart' and a pay-as-you-throw system. A customer will be charged only when their City-provided cart is emptied at the curb. Residents already using city refuse carts will have an RFID chip installed on their cart and charged only when the cart is tipped. By using refuse carts and automated equipment to assist drivers, the city can increase productivity by 40%. By eliminating the printing of one million plastic bags and tags, as well as the distribution to over one-hundred locations, the city can lower costs for itself and its customers. Use of the smart carts will keep one million plastic bags out of the waste system, keep the neighborhoods cleaner, and reduce the number of employee injuries.

Roughly thirty-five citizens gathered at Holy Spirit Parish on the city's west side to discuss these proposed changes with City Commissioners Walt Gutowski and Dave Shaffer. Also in attendance to answer any additional questions were City Manager Greg Sundstrom and Public Services Director James Hurt. The chosen location for the meeting was based on the city area where the majority of citizen concern calls came from. 

Some of these concerns were in regard to the storage and/or unsightliness of the cart for those whose homes do not have garages or even driveways, especially for those citizens living in a multi-family home. Potential smell and general sanitation issues between tips were also voiced by citizens, especially during the summers months, and the city simply reminded those concerned that bags will still be available for purchase and use. Also a new code will go into effect with this transition which will require property owners, or landlords, to provide and be responsible for waste removal.

Residents may continue to use the city's trash bags after July 1st and convert to a smart cart at a later date, but the cost of the bag will increase one dollar per bag, which will only be available for purchase at one of the city offices. Since the city will be eliminating refuse tags at this same time, customers using the city's refuse services will no longer need bulk item tags and appliance stickers because the drivers will use on-vehicle computers to add this service to the appropriate account. At this time, no changes will be made to single-stream recycling services or yard waste and composting services.

Customers will pay based on the size of their cart, which will be available in 32, 64, and 96-gallon sizes, and the number of times that their cart is serviced (tipped). Tipping fees are to be based on the size of the cart, ranging from two to six dollars per tip. More sizable price changes will apply to bulk item collection, which will go from $7.50 to $20.00 per item, and the appliance collection fee, which will go from $12.50 to $25.00 per appliance. Property tax rates will also drop .30 mills for residents.

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