Garbage truck drivers navigate obstacle course after big snowstorm

Feb 24, 2023, 7:28 PM | Updated: 10:40 pm

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — After 15 years on the job, Saul Lopez said navigating a garbage or recycling truck is already hard enough.

“There’s trees, mailboxes, cars,” he said. “I mean you’ve got a lot of obstacles around the can.”

Once you add piles of snow to the mix, Lopez said the job becomes even more difficult because snowbanks make the roads narrow and crowded.

“I mean it’s like an obstacle course out there,” the recycling truck driver said. “Especially with all the snowbanks it’s kind of hard to see.”

Lopez works for Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District which canceled collection service on Wednesday because of the large snowstorm.

“Just getting stuck and sliding everywhere,” said McKenna Tupai, the company’s sustainability coordinator. “For our drivers’ safety and the safety of residents we didn’t want to try that on Wednesday.”

The drivers are now playing catch-up and planning to work Saturday to finish their routes.

“All that snow,” Lopez said. “We have to grab the can. Sometimes we can’t even see it because it’s so much of a snowbank.”

One of the main things residents can do to help out is to keep their garbage and recycling cans at street level—not up higher on a snowbank—because the truck’s arms are designed to grab the cans at street level.

Another way to help is to always keep cans three feet apart and away from cars and other objects. Don’t place the can under trees and wires.

Also, don’t overfill the cans allowing the lid to remain open. When garbage and recycling fall out, the driver has to get out and pick it up.

Finally, clear the snow off of the lid of the garbage can. The snow adds extra weight to the can and also fills up the truck with snow.

Even though the snow has made for some difficult days, Lopez has a good attitude about it.

“It’s Mother Nature, right? We’ve got to accept all the snow we can get. We need it,” he said.

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