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Firm steps up effort to fix Newton's trash can wheels

Posted by Sarah Thomas  August 18, 2010 10:00 AM

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After already replacing wheels on 42,000 of Newton’s 54,000 trash and recycling bins, the manufacturer has moved a staff member to the city full time to handle any further problems, a company official said.

"After meeting this week with DPW commissioner Tom Daley, we decided to consolidate efforts," said Tim Phanco, vice president of sales for Otto Environmental Systems. "Now residents with defective wheels can once again call City Hall at 617-796-1000 and there will be someone to see to it that their wheels are replaced within 24 hours."

The problem began after the city switched to automated trash pickup and single-stream recycling last year, when residents began to complain that the rubber tread was separating from the plastic wheels of the cans. Phanco said the wheels on the cans shipped to Newton had not passed tests measuring the wheels’ durability over 10 years of use.

"Now, because of this situation, we're testing all our wheels much more carefully," Phanco said. He said Otto was still investigating how the oversight occurred.

"We have millions of cans, with double millions of wheels, all over the world, and this situation in Newton is extremely rare," Phanco said.

Phanco said the staff member would remain in Newton until all the can wheels had been replaced or residents stopped complaining.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

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