Downtown Raleigh to get first-in-the-nation underground trash system

North Carolina
Molok Underground Trash Collection System

Downtown Raleigh will soon to be home to a first-in-the-nation underground waste collection system, according to a news release from the city.

The “Dump the Cart” pilot project aims to keep garbage carts — a source of frustration for downtown businesses and pedestrians for years — off the streets and out of the way.

According to the release, “Raleigh’s oldest streets were built without alleys and the trash and recycling carts lining their sidewalks have long been an issue for pedestrians.”

The garbage and recycling carts “smell, restrict access, and were identified as the top concern in a 2018 downtown cleanliness survey,” the City said.

Officials said the containers, made by Molok North America, will begin being installed Tuesday at the corner of Wilmington and Hargett streets.

“The pilot project includes six new high-capacity containers…to collect trash, mixed recycling, and cardboard. The containers will turn a no-parking zone into the first municipal installation of its kind in the United States,” the news release said.

“It’s very exciting for us that Raleigh is the first city in the country to adopt this underground storage model,” said Solid Waste Services Director Stan Joseph. “It’s a simple concept using innovative technology. The bottom line is that we want to improve quality of life — and part of that is getting garbage carts off the sidewalks and away from neighbors and visitors enjoying downtown.”

Each semi-underground container will be able to hold the equivalent of about 20 carts, which will provide “potential cost savings and [reduce] environmental impacts.”

Currently, City crews pick up the blue rolling carts six days a week, twice per day and also on Sunday. Downtown businesses are required to take the carts to the curb and then pull them back up once they’ve been emptied — twice per day. While the carts are on the curb waiting to be picked up they’re also blocking pedestrian traffic and filling the air with the scent of trash.

“This should greatly reduce the overall amount of time our trucks spend on the street, a benefit for cars, pedestrians, and our downtown crew’s safety,” Joseph said.

According to the release, Raleigh’s Solid Waste Services “will monitor fullness levels and handle collections, using a retrofitted knuckleboom truck with a hook serving as a cost-effective crane to manage the large containers.”

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