SUN CITY CENTER — Hillsborough County officials brought their “Talk Trash” roadshow to Sun City Center on April 25 and wound up playing to a full house. Residents packed into Community Hall for the presentation, forcing officials to bring out more and more chairs.
The meeting focused on the approaching Oct. 1 date for the switch to automated trash collection in Hillsborough County. Standardized, county-supplied rolling trash containers in varying sizes will be the only accepted containers for use, as necessitated by the automatic arms on new garbage trucks that will pick up the containers at curbside.
In addition, recycling will also use a new container for automated pick up, becoming “single stream,” which means that all recyclable materials can be deposited into one container rather than in the currently separate blue and green bins.
The county touts numerous benefits in switching to automated collection, including less litter in the neighborhoods and the safety of sanitation workers, who will no longer need to leave the truck and work on the roads in traffic to collect the trash.
Automated trash collection is already in place in numerous cities and communities around the nation. St. Petersburg has been automated for the past seven years. Currently, nine million people in Florida are served by automated trash collection.
The county will maintain the twice-weekly collection of trash and the once-weekly collection of recyclables. Distribution of the new trash containers is scheduled to begin on August 1.
Sun City Center residents, however, had several concerns about the new service, primarily focusing on the size of the trash containers. A 95 gallon container seemed too large, even though that size was chosen to accommodate the largest typical trash days, such as those around Christmas and Thanksgiving. The larger container was deemed necessary since trash may no longer be left in bags or stacked next to the container at curbside since the automated truck will not be able to collect such trash.
However, to better meet the lower trash capacity requirements — and the voiced requests — of many people in Sun City Center, the county will provide SCC and KP residents with two 35 gallon containers, a gray one for trash, a blue one for recycling. Residents will have the opportunity to change to larger containers between Jan. 15 and March 15, at no cost, if they find that the 35 gallon size is too small. Implementation in Sun City Center will be delayed until Jan. 1, 2014 in order to accommodate the return of snowbirds. In addition, the county said it would arrange pick-up of no-longer-needed recycling bins and trash containers.
The county took steps to assure residents that the new containers were designed with the smallest possible footprint to fit into garages and other tight spaces. In fact, one pointed out that the space taken up by a standard garbage bin plus the two standard recycling bins currently in use pretty much matched the size of two 35 gallon containers.
Community residents lined up during the meeting with numerous questions about the new service, which were answered in turn by a panel of four Hillsborough County officials.
Commercial trash collection is not impacted by the change of service. Most of South Hillsborough is in residential collection District Five and will be served by Waste Services of Florida.
Distribution of more than 500,000 new trash containers will begin on Aug. 1, with automated service slated to begin on Oct. 1.