New garbage trucks rolling through neighborhoods in several Contra Costa cities are helping to reduce wear and tear on streets by picking up both residential and commercial garbage on one route while making it easier for drivers to see any inappropriate items going into recycling and yard waste bins.

To date, about three-fourths of the 70 garbage trucks in the residential fleet operated by Republic Services of Contra Costa County are outfitted to pick up both commercial and residential trash on one route. Republic provides trash service in Alamo, Antioch, Blackhawk, Clayton, Danville, Bay Point, Lafayette, Orinda, Martinez, Moraga, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.

The new double-duty trucks, which run on natural gas and are part of an ongoing fleet replacement, are being used on residential routes in Antioch, Clayton, Martinez, Pleasant Hill and parts of Walnut Creek, and more are on the way. The trucks are outfitted with a large square-shaped container mounted on the front of the vehicle. The container is manufactured by Sonoma-based Curotto-Can and goes by the name of the "Slammin' Eagle."

Trash collected from residential and commercial accounts is placed in the container. When the container is full, it is lifted by an automated arm that pours the contents into the truck.

"We can probably lift about 25 hauls before we dump the Curotto can into the truck. We started using this technology a year and a half ago. It's a multipurpose vehicle," said Tim Argenti, general manager for Republic's Contra Costa and Solano counties operations. "It reduces the number of vehicles that we have on transit on city streets. We are saving lots on fuel and there is the operational efficiency. In the past we needed two separate trucks."

Less driving means less wear and tear on city streets, he said.

The double-duty trucks also help keep out unwanted items when recycling and yard waste is being picked up, said Julie Haas-Wajdowicz, Antioch's environmental resource coordinator.

"It's amazing how fascinating the world of garbage collection can be," she said. "For us here, and the environment as a whole, the real advantage I see is the ability of the driver to see what is being dumped out of the can into the truck."

For example, a driver would be able to tell if someone put regular trash in the bin for recycling or yard waste, she said. At that point, educational outreach can be directed to the resident who put the trash in the wrong bin in hopes that it won't happen again, she said.

"With the old system, it went behind them. (Now) they can see what's coming into the container, and at that point deal with the contamination issue before it contaminates the whole load," she said.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her at Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.