Trash study puts new survey online

LAWRENCEVILLE - Already, more than 2,500 people have shared their thoughts on proposed changes to the county's trash collection methods.

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful hopes to double that number with a new survey that goes live today.

Information about the survey will be sent to 225,000 households with their water bills, Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Director Connie Wiggins said. It can be accessed on the group's Web site at www.gwinnettcb.org.

The survey will remain online for 45 days and includes about 25 questions that ask whether people agree or disagree with possible changes to trash collection services and what tradeoffs they would be willing to make to have less expensive pickups or more recycling options, Wiggins said.

The county is in the middle of revamping its solid waste plan, and Wiggins said Gwinnett's Board of Commissioners will receive a recommendation in June. Any major changes likely would not be enacted until 2009, but the leading suggestion is a plan that would divide the county into eight to 10 service districts and allow trash collection companies to bid on the districts.

Yard waste and bulky items would also be picked up, and recyclable items would increase from five to 30. Wiggins said that plan, which would make trash collection mandatory, would likely cost less than what most residents pay now.

Currently, eight for-profit companies collect garbage in Gwinnett, and 80 percent of the county's ZIP codes have six or more companies picking up the trash. That has led to complaints about garbage trucks going up and down streets and trash bins being on the curb every day.

Wiggins said about 125 people participated in forums to discuss the disposal options and 400 people responded to telephone surveys. An additional 2,000 responded to an online survey that has been on the group's site for a year.

The new survey should reach that many people as well, Wiggins said.

"It's a notice inviting people to participate in a remarkable effort to improve the quality of life in Gwinnett County," she said. "I hope people start responding early."

People without Internet access who want to participate in the survey can have it faxed or mailed. Call 770-822-5187 for more information.