Stafford’s Automated Leaf Vacuum Trucks Get Job Done Zone by Zone

Once Collected, Leaves Become Mulch to Gardeners’ Delight
Dec 12, 2017

Three years since beginning to explore the benefits of leaf vacuum technology and equipment, Stafford Township now owns three leaf trucks and provides, as of Dec. 4, fully automated leaf pickup service to the entire town. The trucks are proving to be a benefit to the town in several ways, according to Administrator James Moran.

The most obvious benefit is efficiency, Moran explained: Whereas previously a three-man crew could pick up three to four tons of leaves in a day, one vacuum truck operated by one man can collect 11 to 13 tons of leaves per day. Three times the amount of leaves with one-third the manpower is a significant savings.

One of the three trucks was a retrofit of an existing truck, so it cost about $100,000, roughly half the price of a new truck, he said. The true test of the investment, of course, is how well it handles regular use over time.

The way it works is a big hydraulic vacuum is mounted on a 40-yard container, and a driver sits in the cab and works a joystick. A street sweeper truck comes after the leaf truck to clean up along the curbs. The containers are hauled to the Ocean County recycling facility, where the leaves are processed into leaf mulch, which is “a free asset” to residents for use in their gardens and for plants that like acidic soil.

The same trucks can be adapted for road salt/brine machines and bulk trash removal. The purchases have been made in such a way as to ensure maximum usefulness, cost effectiveness and self-sufficiency, 12 months of the year, Moran said. “We’re set up now so that, if we had another event like (Superstorm) Sandy, we could handle the debris ourselves,” rather than rely on outside agencies to help with the cleanup.

Storm drains in town have been cleaned in advance of leaf collection. Residents are asked to rake their leaves into piles at the curb line the Sunday before their designated zone week of the month for bulk pickup. (If unsure, call Public Works at 609-597-1000, extension 8609, or visit Bagged leaves will no longer be accepted. Leaf collection months are April, May, June, November and December.  —V.F.


Zone 1: First full week of the month. Beach Haven West, Village Harbour, Colony Lakes, Cedar Bonnet Island, Mallard Island and Bayside.

Zone 2: Second full week. Town North and South, Route 9, Cedar Run, Mayetta, Downtown Manahawkin, Perry’s Lake, The Landings and Pinecrest Village.

Zone 3: Third full week. Ocean Acres (everything east of and including Nautilus Drive and north of Neptune Road).

Zone 4: Fourth full week. Remaining Ocean Acres (west of Nautilus Drive, south of and including Neptune Road), Fawn Lakes, Atlantic Hills, Paramount Escapes and Warren Grove. 

Once a street has been collected, Public Works will not return until the next scheduled zone week.

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