City of Berkeley Refuse Service 1949


Berkeley, California, Refuse Service
The American City, June 1949
By Owen Dyer .Superintendent Department of Refuse Service Berkeley, California.

A detailed study of how the city collects and disposes of its refuse

Health and sanitation should be the primary objectives in the plan, organization. and cost of refuse collection and disposal; whether the operations are to be performed by the municipality or private contract should he determined on the basis of efficiency and service.

Refuse-collection practices, and therefore costs, are materially affected by certain local conditions of the city. Cost comparisons with other cities or private companies do not necessarily give a true picture. Topographical differences may be responsible for substantial differences. The scale of wages, privileges allowed the men, location of containers, and difficulty in getting to them have a direct bearing on the number of pickups each crew of a truck can take care of in one day. The type of equipment used, the length of haul to the disposal plant, and the method of disposal are all relevant factors.

With this introduction, we present the manner in which the Refuse Department of the City of Berkeley is operated. We deal with field collection, disposal. and office in the order presented.

The Department  operates with 16 semi-trailer unit- and four standard units. The truck bodies have an 11cubic-yard capacity and are mounted on Chevrolet and GMC chassis. The loading height of the truck body is 5 feet 7 inches from the ground. These trucks make two or three loads a clay. depending upon the location of the route. One foreman is in charge of the field supervision. His salary is $350 a mouth.

 The present wage scale as of January 1, 1949 is $281 a month for drivers who are in charge of their routes, and $247 a month for the helpers, plus standard vacation, sick leave, and retirement benefits. These city crews operate on a five-day, 40-hour work week.

Collections are made from 15- to 40-gallon approved garbage containers. There is no segregation required by the householder.   Collection are made from the rear of the buildings. on the curb. Unfortunately. Berkeley does not have any alleys to make the work easier.

Rubbish is piled and burned  then covered with dirt. The isolated location prevents smoke or other nuisances from becoming objectionable. Inset: Large. capacity trailer trucks designed by the cur collect refuse in Berkeley.

The collection routes and work schedules for each crew are mapped according to the topography of the city. Certain sections of Berkeley are quite hilly. The following rule has been fixed as a fair days work for the collectors.

Location Number of calls per 3-man crews
Hill Section 405
Flat Section 480
Business Section 360

The city operates one truck for the collection of wastepaper from the business district. This service, furnished on a charge basis to the business houses, is based on the quantity and frequency of schedule. The monthly rates for such services are as follows:

9-ft x 9-ft Burlap Service 1 2 3 6
(a) Wastepaper and Flattened
cardboard located in basement
flight of stairs
$2.00 $4.00 6.00 $12.00
(b) Wastepaper and Flattened
cardboard located on ground floor inside
or outside the building where the material
has to be carried out
$1.50 $3.00 $4.50 $9.00
(c) Wastepaper and Flattened
cardboard located at curb for collection
$1.00 $2.00 $3.00 $6.00
Rates per month for the following number of collections weekly

The city uses 9-foot square burlaps for the collection of this material, and sells the paper for $10.00 a ton delivered to a paper processing plant in Oakland.

Collection Rates

The city is divided into three districts. based on topography and distance of haul to the dump. which is located on the San Francisco Bay waterfront.

The minimum rates for out- 30-gallon -or-less container per week are as follows:
District No. 1 . . . . . . . .80c a month
District No. 2. . . . . . . . 83c a month
District No. . . . . . . . . . 95c a month

A new rate schedule was adopted by the City Council in May. 1948. Rates have been carefully worked out as to quantity and frequency of collection, and provide additional charges where the cans are located in the basement or up flights of stairs. The method of determining the rates are the same in both the business and residential areas. Interested cities may obtain details by requesting a copy of Resolution No. 30,353 N. S., from the Refuse Collection Department of the City of Berkeley.

The 16-acre parking area shown here resulted from Berkeley Refuse Operations


Since 1924, the City of Berkeley has reclaimed more than 100 acres of tide lands which are now being utilized for business and industrial purposes. Berkeley is doubly fortunate in its disposal facilities. Not only is the amount of waterfront in tide lands almost unlimited (7.5 square miles of the City of Berkeley lies under water) but the location is such that it is isolated from the residential and business areas by an industrial belt along the Bay front. This development has been accomplished through a planned program of fill and cover dumps. As long as this operation meets with the approval of the State Department of Public Health, Berkeley has solved its disposal problem for many years to come because it has many hundreds of additional acres of tide lands available for future operations.

The University Avenue Dump is used for the disposal of all household mixed refuse which includes the putrefactive food wastes. The waters of the Bay in front of Berkeley are shallow, averaging not more than 8 feet at high tide. The refuse is dumped by the trucks on the ever-advancing face of the dump, bull-dozed into place and compacted by the weight of the trucks. Cover material collies from local excavating contractors and builders, who bring their surplus dirt and rock, and who are paid from 25 to 50 cents a cubic yard for it. The depth of the fill averages about 10 feet including a 2-foot dirt cover. The operation results in the reclaiming of about 4.5 acres of tidelands a year. Plans are now under way for the development of a new 60-acre tideland dump site. The principal engineering required  is the construction of a bulkhead around the area.

 At the foot of Virginia Street on the waterfront, less than a half mile  distant, is a separate rubbish dump operated by tile city. This is used for all non-putrefactive waste, both combustible and non-combustible  Private refuse haulers bring their materials here. The schedule of fees ranges from 50 cents to $2 per truck load. One unusual feature is that private persons hauling their own rubbish front their place of business or residence within the Berkeley city limits may use this dump without charge.

All combustible material received is placed in piles or platforms and is set afire. It is burned two or three times a week so that there is no great accumulation of material at any time. The distance from the business and residential areas, plus the Bay area's natural air conditioning through constant breezes, results in the absence of smog or other nuisances. This rubbish dump is reclaiming tide lands at the rate of approximately 1.5 acres per year. Although the amount of material handled is comparable to that at the garbage dump, the fact that it is burned permits the bulk to be reduced, and allows for much better compaction.

Because the rubbish dump is the only one in the area, it receives substantial quantities of material from outside the city limits. The disposal charges for rubbish from outside the city limits are higher, ranging from $1 to $3 per truck load. Exclusive salvage rights are granted by the city to separate contractors at each dump.

Three men are required to perform the daily work of disposing of all garbage and rubbish hauled by city and private equipment to the city dumps- Two tractors equipped with bulldozers are also required. Two of the men are classified as tractor operators. Each is charged with the responsibility of disposing and covering the material in a manner that will meet with the approval of the state and local health authorities. The third man is a checker. His duties consist of handling all the business to be transacted under our system of dumping privileges. He directs all private traffic. keeps a daily record of the number of vehicles entering the dump, and maintains a daily control of all transactions in connection with those individuals who have to pay for dumping.

The monthly salaries of these men during the first half of this fiscal year were as follows:

  Per Month
Tractor Operators - 40-hour work week $288.00
Checker $235.00
Office Personnel  
Superintendent $525.00
Senior Account Clerk $270.00
Senior Cashier Clerk $270.00
Bill Collector $263.00
1 Clerk $228.00
2 Clerk $218.00
1 Addressographer $203.00

Bills are prepared and mailed from this office quarterly. All postings to the individual ledger card is done by a Burroughs bookkeeping machine.

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