New Issaquah garbage hauler could mean fewer missed pickups

Issaquah switched its garbage hauler from Waste Management to Cleanscapes as of Monday morning. While cheaper rates and rebranded cans are a certainty for residents, the company says locals will also find unmatched customer service.

As the mechanical arm on the garbage truck shakes a can overheard, the 25-ton dumper jostles like a red wagon rolling down a rocky hill.

Rodney Watkins, who has been a hauler for 10 years, checks a camera monitor to see if can is empty. A few more bangs and the arm lowers the bin to the curb.

Technology has completely changed garbage collection in the past five years, and Cleanscapes is leading the way, he says.

Issaquah switched its garbage hauler from Waste Management to Cleanscapes as of Monday morning. While cheaper rates and rebranded cans are a certainty for residents, the company says locals will also find unmatched customer service.

Practically that means fewer missed cans, said John Taylor, a Cleanscapes spokesperson.

A different hauler in Seattle missed 300-400 cans a week. When Cleanscapes took that same route, it only missed about 10, he said.

The accuracy is in the technology. The company uses a geography information system to mark exactly where customers place their cans. If a driver misses one, they will see it on their computer route maps, which look much like a large car GPS.

If haulers skips a can, because it’s not out or a bear got to it first – wildlife had scattered trash from a couple cans in Talus on Monday – they can easily mark down the reason.

The trucks also are fitted with a number of cameras, which look not only into the trash compactor, but around the truck for safety.

The cameras also prove useful for any disputes, including car accidents or whether the customer really put their can out in time.

On Talus, Watkins set down his last can and the truck lurched forward with a whine similar to a wind-up toy. He laughed, saying he didn’t even have to put his foot on the gas.

Hydraulic launch assisted starts allow the trucks to roll down the street with little fuel. When drivers do push the pedal, the lime green trucks burn natural gas.

“It’s the Toyota Prius of garbage,” Watkins said.

He’s been with Cleanscapes since it won its first contract. The local company promised to shake up a market that had been ruled by large corporations for years.

“I wanted to see Cleanscapes succeed,” Watkins said, “and I thought I could make a difference.”

Chris Martin founded the company in 1997 as a project to clean up Pioneer Square. In 2007 he made a leap into the garbage collection business, winning contracts in Seattle and Shoreline. Issaquah was the fourth city to sign up.

Garbage Hauler Kevin Watson checks his map in Talus the first day of the new route. Issaquah switched its garbage contract over to Cleanscapes Monday.

Garbage Hauler Kevin Watson loads a recycle can from a fire station in Issaquah.