Taking out the trash might be a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Taking out the trash might be a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

According to the Ohio Buckeye chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North American, nobody does it better than the city of Delaware's Public Works Department.

The chapter has rated the city's trash collection and recycling services the best in Ohio.

Last Monday, the city's public works department received the 2008 "Solid Waste Hauler of the Year" award.

"We are pleased to be recognized by others within the industry," said Tim Browning, Delaware's public works director. "Neither the city of Delaware, nor the public works department has previously received this award."

In bestowing the honor upon the department, SWANA noted the city has reduced collections crews, utilized semi-automated collection vehicles and instituted a citywide tipcart program which further reduced manpower needs and work-related injuries.

"In 1998, we utilized eight full-time employees and five permanent, part-time employees, which would be equivalent to 12 full-time employees," Browning said. "With a 30 percent increase in the population to date, creating more area to provide service to, our current staffing level is at 13 full-time employees."

Efficiencies also were realized in collection stops, SWANA officials said. Specifically, one-person side-load semi-automated collection vehicles averaged more than 650 stops per day, an increase of more than 150 stops over the previously-used three-person refuse hauler.

Additionally, SWANA officials said changes to the city's voluntary curbside recycling program have resulted in greater recycling participation among Delaware residents and businesses. Rather than requiring separation of all materials, a new program began in 2005 allowing for a co-mingled fiber and non-fiber system.

City officials noted that participation in its recycling program increased from 30 to 33 percent since the changes, while reducing the amount of refuse disposed of in tipcarts.

"The city of Delaware is fortunate to have local government employees who excel in the workplace and demonstrate initiative and practical stewardship of city resources," Delaware city manager Tom Homan said in a press statement. "We are constantly exploring refuse collections methods that help contain operating costs, while increasing efficiency and meeting the needs of a rapidly expanding population and service area."

According to city officials, the city collected 14,684 tons of refuse in 2007, and 1,061 tons of recycling material. It also collected 1,479 tons of yard waste last year.

nellis@thisweeknews.com