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Automated trash collection coming to your street

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For the first time in more than 15 years, changes are coming to trash collection in Hillsborough County.

By Mitch Traphagen

SOUTH COUNTY - For the first time in more than 15 years, changes are coming to trash collection in Hillsborough County. Although a reduction in the current twice weekly trash pickup had been discussed recently, during last week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting the commissioners voted to retain the current schedule of twice weekly curbside trash pickup, along with once a week recycling pickup and yard waste pickup. The biggest change for county residents is expected to be in the form of a reduction in the annual trash pickup fee, or, at a minimum, no increase in current fees, along with new automated trash pickup.

According to Hillsborough County Public Utilities Director John Lyons, the new, automated service is expected to begin on October 1. Automated trash pickup has been widely implemented across the nation in cities both large and small. As part of the service, new garbage cans, designed to work with the arms of the new garbage trucks, will be required. According to Lyons, the county expects to begin distributing the new cans at the beginning of September.  The new bins are expected to be provided at no cost to county residents.

Trash bins designed for automated pickup are often sized as 35, 65 or 95 gallons. When asked if residents will be limited to one bin, Lyons responded that the county is expecting one will be sufficient for the vast majority of people, but the county will work with those who have concerns. With the automated system, residential trash must be contained entirely within the bins.

“The way we’re setting it up, if a second can is needed we’ll try to provide that,” Lyons said. “But we would like to try making things work with one can.”

Automated trash pickup will also mean the end of sanitation employees hanging off the backs of trucks in traffic to manually dump trash cans into the trucks. When asked about possible job losses involved in the change, Lyons responded, “We’ll work with the contractors to identify job losses. We’ll try to ultimately know what is going to happen and how best to accommodate that.”

For many cities, automated trash pickup has been advantageous in terms of cost savings, safety (for sanitation workers), and community cleanliness. Most such trash cans include lids that are designed to withstand wind and other problems that can allow errant trash to be dispersed along neighborhood roads.

The Public Utilities Department offers a 25 percent senior citizen’s discount for solid waste disposal assessment to residential customers who qualify.  For information visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/index.aspx?nid=1269.

“It is an exciting time,” Lyons said. “There is a lot of change, but we’ll be out ahead of it. We’ll make sure we’ll do the best job that we can to communicate changes before they take place.”

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