WasteCon 2014

Kids’ Artwork and McNeilus Help Promote Florida Hauler’s New Recycling Program

McNeilus Manual/Automated Side Loaders take center stage, along with some student artwork, in the City of Lakeland’s effort to promote single-sort recycling.


“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is the simple message from poster contest grand prize winner Sophia Sullivan that now adorns the side of a McNeilus Manual/Automated Side Loader in Lakeland, FL. The 12 winning students (one from each local elementary school and a grand prize winner) were presented with a certificate and a model refuse truck donated by McNeilus Companies. They were also recognized during a citywide Green Celebration in honor of Earth Day.


By Kelli Sandhurst

Recycling has become big business as more companies and communities look to reduce and reuse. Refuse haulers across the country are going green and helping to boost recycling efforts. One of those haulers is the City of Lakeland, FL. They’re working hard to promote how easy it can be to recycle, and to streamline their process for picking up those recyclables.

Getting the Children’s Perspective

The city of Lakeland implemented a single-stream recycling program late last year—a change from its previous seven-sort recycling process—and added six new McNeilus Manual/Automated (M/A) Side Loader refuse trucks to go with it. To get its refuse customers on board and to promote the new single-sort program, the city Solid Waste Manager Jeff Wood turned to the local schools. “We wanted to get the children’s perspective on recycling,” Wood said. “They’re the future of this program. What does recycling mean to them?”

Students in second through fifth grade from 11 area schools put their thoughts in color on paper for a poster contest depicting how they view recycling and Earth Day. Lakeland received 600 entries, which were judged by city staff and its refuse truck drivers. “This contest was received very positively by everybody, and the drivers had fun judging,” Wood said. “It wasn’t the simplest thing to judge. They tried to pick out what they perceived as the best. There were a lot of good entries.”

Promoting Citywide Recycling

Ultimately, one winner was chosen from each school, along with one grand prize winner. The winning students were recognized individually in separate ceremonies at their schools and presented with model refuse trucks donated by McNeilus. They were also recognized citywide during Lakeland’s annual Green Celebration. The students’ artwork was on display in truck-sized wraps adorning each side of the six McNeilus refuse trucks that run recycling pickup throughout the city. “The solid waste division of Lakeland has done a wonderful job. Not only are they promoting their recycling program, but they also involved the kids in the city,” said McNeilus Regional Sales Manager Mark Liddell, who works out of McNeilus’ Tampa, Florida, branch. “Not only were the kids excited to see their artwork on the side of the McNeilus Manual/Automated trucks, but their parents and grandparents were also just as excited. The Green Celebration event brought the people of the community out to see the trucks. I believe this helps the community understand what is being done for them with their refuse removal.”

Using the colorful truck wraps as a way to promote citywide recycling has truly created a buzz among residents in Lakeland’s neighborhoods. Wood says Lakeland has doubled its tonnage in recyclables pickup since the single-stream carted recycling program started. “Now that we have fully-automated trucks, the single stream is easier for drivers, and it’s easier for participants. Instead of sorting recyclables into several different bins, they can just throw everything into one cart and it’s done,” Wood said. “And when they’re seeing the truck wraps, it keeps people thinking about recycling.”

Another asset to the new single-sort program, according to Wood, is that the McNeilus Manual/Automated Side Loader is so well-suited for the city’s recycling pickup. Wood said the low sill height of the hopper is an advantage because it allows the drivers to manually throw in the “extras” that can be left on the curb, along with other recyclable materials such as cardboard, which has been a target for the city. The truck’s automated arm is also suited for several can sizes so that it can pick up a variety of refuse bins. “The M/A was a good option for the City of Lakeland because they can pick up the 95-, 65- or 35-gallon containers with the arm on the side of the M/A, but they are also able to hand feed,” said Liddell. “The driver has to get out once in a while and throw materials into the truck. He has that option with this truck.”

Expanding the Reach

Drivers and customers, alike, are on board with the city’s new single-stream recycling option. And the City of Lakeland is hoping it will continue to expand its residential recycling reach. For now, it will let its new McNeilus M/A Side Loaders, and their artistic wrapping, do the talking about how easy recycling can be.

Kelli Sandhurst is a marketing representative for McNeilus Companies, Inc. (Dodge Center, MN). McNeilus, an Oshkosh Corporation company, is a leading manufacturer of refuse truck bodies, concrete mixers and batch plants, with an extensive network of factory-owned service and support centers. For more information, call (507) 374-6321 or (888) 686-7278.