Recycling and solid waste collection services in the city of Poncitlán, Mexico, are becoming more efficient and environmentally friendly with the addition of six garbage collection vehicles and 1,100 trash containers from Allied Waste Services of Santa Barbara.

Juan Villarruel, a professional driver for Allied Waste Services who has been with the company for more than 25 years, went to Poncitlán, Mexico, a town in central-western Mexico, for a special recognition ceremony and to train the truck drivers how to use the new vehicles.

“It’s a completely new system for them, so we wanted to teach all the drivers how to operate the trucks safely,” Villarruel said. “I was overwhelmed by how much gratitude the whole community showed; people were coming outside their homes just to see the trucks going down the streets.”

Allied Waste Services is upgrading its fleet locally with the latest emissions-reducing, compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered trucks, and wanted its old trucks to be put to good use if possible.

The donation of the diesel-fueled trucks to Poncitlán had been in the works for nearly six months. Villarruel contacted the mayor of Poncitlán, Carlos Maldonado Guerrero, regarding the offer last summer after Allied made the move to purchase the new CNG trucks. Mayor Guerrero flew to Santa Barbara last August to see the vehicles — a visit that quickly sealed the deal.

“The mayor was so impressed by the quality of the trucks and was in shock after seeing them,” Villarruel said. “He couldn’t believe his city was going to get them just like that. He called it a ‘pot of gold’ for his town.”

The six trucks, together with 1,100 trash and recycling carts, mean a major upgrade in waste management for the town of Poncitlán. Poncitlán’s old trucks, which carried only two to three tons of waste, didn’t have compactors built into the vehicles.

“They were doing everything by hand and working double shifts,” Villarruel said. “With the new trucks, they can do a better job hauling, not only waste, but more recycling as well. With the old trucks, they had to work well past dark to collect it all. Now they’re able to do the job with one shift and be done well before nightfall.”

“It’s an honor to lend a helping hand,” said Stephen MacIntosh, the new general manager of Allied Waste Services of Santa Barbara. “The city of Poncitlán is 40-plus years behind in technology when it comes to solid waste collection services. These new trucks are now faster and more efficient. They’re saving a great deal of time and money while moving the city towards better environmental practices.”

With the vehicles donated by Allied, which can hold roughly 10 tons of trash, the city can now carry three times the capacity of its old trucks, allowing the drivers to collect the town’s trash far more efficiently and safely.

The city of Poncitlán and Mayor Guerrero held a public ceremony on Jan. 20 to recognize Allied Waste Services of Santa Barbara for its generosity and to formally accept the donation. Click here to watch a video of the recognition ceremony.

— Daniella Elghanayan is a publicist.