Waste Management's New Overfill Policy

By Mayor Trent Staggs and Councilmember Troy McDougal

Waste Management is introducing a new policy addressing the overfilling of garbage cans so that lids cannot close. As mayor and a city councilmember, we want to articulate together the city’s perspective on this topic and answer the various questions that have been raised.

We will also discuss which materials can be placed in your recycling can. And lastly, we want to inform you of our thoughts on whether the city should continue to participate in Waste Management’s recycling program.

Dispelling Rumors: Fines for Wind Opening Garbage Can Lids
Unfortunately, an erroneous news report on Waste Management’s new overfilling policy has spread incorrect information. Let us be very clear: no one will be fined because wind pushed open their garbage can lid. We have expressed our disappointment with that news organization, and we encourage all to dispel this rumor.

Waste Management’s concern is garbage can lids that cannot close due to an excess of waste piled up in residents’ garbage cans. Garbage can lids should not be prevented from closing because of waste that extends beyond the edge of the can opening. Beginning this April, residents may be fined $5 from Waste Management each time their garbage cans are filled to exceed capacity when their trucks stop to pick up waste.

The goal of this policy is to correct egregious violations, not incidental occurrences. Below are photos from Waste Management that give examples of unacceptable overfilling of garbage and recycling cans.

Waste Management’s smart truck cameras are equipped with the ability to distinguish between when a lid cannot close due to excess waste and when a lid could close but is being propped up due to an errant piece of waste, or if the wind pushed open the lid.

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Review Process: How fines will be assessed
Riverton City has discussed at length with Waste Management how fines will be assessed. We have agreed to a process that will be fair and give residents ample opportunity to voice their concerns.

If the Waste Management smart truck cameras determine that a resident is in violation, both Waste Management and Riverton City staff must agree before the fine is levied. A photo of the violation will be emailed (if available) to the resident, and the resident may contact either Waste Management or Riverton City’s utility billing office to appeal the fine.

The Riverton City utility billing office phone number is 801-208-3133. Riverton City staff will be the residents’ advocate in reasonable dispuites with Waste Management.

Riverton’s sanitation portion of utility fees are among the lowest in the valley. We work hard to negotiate great rates for our residents. Additionally, each year the city subsidizes the real cost of trash collection to each resident by using city-wide sales tax revenue.

If residents find that they need an additional garbage can, please call Riverton City utility billing to order one.

Recycling: Do’s and Don’ts
Waste Management tells us that Riverton City has a high rate of recycling contamination. This means that nonrecyclable material placed in resident recycling cans are spoiling the collection. Over one in every four recycling collection efforts are contaminated. 

Too many of our residents are “wish-cycling.” A term that refers to residents’ best intentions and hopes that items can be recycled but it is not. Sometimes an item may have a recycling symbol on it and not be recyclable in our area. Below is a list of materials that Waste Management sees the most of in our residents’ recycling cans that are not recyclable through their program.

NOT Recyclable in Riverton

  • No Wood: Especially large portions of wood, 2x4s, or sheets of plywood
  • No Glass: Riverton City has a free glass recycling bin located at 13400 S on 4050 W, east of the Maverik and South Hills Middle School and west of Holiday Oil.
  • No Clothing
  • No Household non-recycle materials (plastic toys, cardboard with wrapping paper on it, etc.)
  • No Diapers

Materials to Recycle in Riverton

  • Cardboard (pizza boxes are not recyclable)
  • Paper
  • Simple plastics
  • Small quantities of metal

Again, Waste Management’s new program is meant to discourage the most egregious behavior. For example, one resident placed a whole engine block in their recycling can and another resident placed an old kitchen sink in their recycling can. While a scrap yard may be able to recycle the material off these items, placing them in the recycle can is not acceptable.

Waste Management reserves the right to remove a resident’s recycling can on the 4th violation of contamination. Residents may contact the Riverton City utility billing office if they feel their recycling can should not have been removed.

Riverton City’s Partnership with Waste Management
Some residents have inquired about whether Waste Management is the ideal trash collection vendor for Riverton City. There are a few reasons why we feel confident that Waste Management is the best partner for the city at this time.

In August of 2022, Riverton City received several bids from various trash collection vendors. Waste Management’s bid was millions of dollars lower over the purposed five-year contract than the next lowest bid.

The city has also explored providing our own hauling services with our own trucks and drivers, but this too proved to be more expensive. Waste Management staff are good partners with the city, and we appreciate their work in our community.

Riverton City’s Future Participation in Recycling
Riverton City elected officials and staff are committed to helping residents be good stewards of the environment. Recycling, when done properly, can be a great way to take care of our resources.

There are concerns however, that the recycling is not actually happening and instead the material ends up at the Trans-Jordan Landfill. We share these concerns.

As elected officials we are actively evaluating both the costs and whether the hoped for benefits of recycling are achieved. Riverton City has the contractual option to end Waste Management’s recycling program in our city if we so desire. Moreover, we want to ensure recycling is actually effective and not a misnomer.

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