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The growing municipal solid waste generation rates have necessitated more efficient, optimized waste collection facilities. This research is an in-depth ergonomic-environmental analysis of the task of waste collection with consideration for the type of waste collection. The first objective of this research was to conduct a comprehensive ergonomics study of waste collection tasks of three different types of collection including manual, semi-automated and automated. The study utilized observational analysis, site visits and a review of historical data. Laboratory analysis was also performed to assess ergonomic and biomechanics aspects of task performance. Moreover, two surveys were conducted of solid waste collectors and safety personnel at different waste companies to understand the factors affecting waste collectors safety. Detailed analysis of injury data and industry statistics collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was performed to evaluate the injuries trend in the waste collection industry; it was noticed that the waste collection field has the highest rate of non-fatal injuries among fields of waste management industry from 2003 through 2009. Also it was observed that manual waste collectors are exposed to severe occupational injuries more than the automated and semi-automated haulers due to lifting, heavy load handling, repetition and awkward postures. 

The majority of the US collection fleet is composed of diesel-fueled vehicles which contribute significant atmospheric emissions including greenhouse gases. In order to reduce emissions to the atmosphere, more haulers are investigating alternative fuel technologies such as natural gas, biofuels (bio-gas and bio-diesel), and hybrid electric technology. The second objective of this study was to perform an environmental analysis of potential alternative fuel technologies for waste collection vehicles. Life-cycle emissions, cost, fuel and energy consumption were evaluated for a wide range of fossil and bio-fuel technologies. The energy consumption and the tail-pipe emissions of diesel-fueled waste collection vehicles were estimated using MOVES 2010a software. Emission factors were calculated for a typical waste collection driving cycle as well as constant speed. Finally, the selection of fuel type by the waste collection industry requires consideration of environmental, security, financial, operational, and safety issues. In this study, a qualitative comparison of alternative fuels was performed; a multifactorial assessment of these factors was conducted taking into account the opinion of the waste collection industry of the importance of each factor. The study concluded that liquid-petroleum fuels have higher life-cycle emissions compared to natural gas and landfill natural gas has the lowest life-cycle emissions compared to all other fuel categories. Compressed natural gas waste collection vehicles have the lowest fuel cost per collection vehicle mile travel compared to other fuel categories. The actual driving cycle of waste collection vehicles consists of repetitive stops and starts during waste collection; this generates more emissions than constant speed driving. Finally, the multifactorial assessment indicates that natural gas and landfill gas have better environmental, economic, and energy security performance than current liquid-petroleum fuels. 

This study established a foundation for additional research and recommendations for mitigating risks at all levels of task performance. Evidence of this is the presentation of the research at four conferences, three conference publications, the submission of two journal articles and one book chapter. Additionally, the research was featured in the industry publication, Waste Age Magazine in January 2012