LEWISTON, N.Y (WKBW-TV) — While many people continue to work from home during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the garbage man is not one of them.
Collecting the garbage is risky during the pandemic as workers need to take precautions to prevent becoming infected by the coronavirus from someone's trash.
That is one of the reasons why Modern Disposal Services, Inc. in Lewiston is expanding its automated trash collection service to 7 municipalities in Niagara County.
The Town of Porter will begin automated trash on October 1st. Barker, Cambria, Middleport, Newfane, Pendleton, and Somerset will see the automated trucks starting on January 1, 2021.
Only a driver is needed to operate the high-tech trucks. Sitting safely inside the truck cab, the driver uses a control stick that manipulates a giant claw that grabs garbage totes, lifts and dumps the trash, and places the totes back on the ground.
Drivers observe the operation by watching a TV monitor and never have to physically touch the garbage totes or anyone's trash.
"It is a lot safer. I don't have to worry about bringing something home," said veteran garbage truck drive Dave Mietlicki, who has three children at home.
In addition to providing extra safety from the virus, the automated trucks greatly reduce physical injuries.
"Incredibly helpful on the safety side. We are able to minimize to almost none our injuries," explained Modern Disposal Services Site Manager, Joshua Derda.
The trucks are already being used in parts of Niagara County to pick-up recyclables.
Expansion of the program will include full trash pickup weekly, although, bulk pickup will still need to be done by two-man crews.
Joshua Derda told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that he wishes more communities in Erie and Niagara Counties (areas where Modern services) would consider using automated trash collection as it is faster, safer, and cleaner.
"It is definitely the wave of the future. And to be honest, Western New York is kind of late to the game because many other parts of the country already use automated types," added Derda.