When I lived in Kansas, credit was given to residents when trash wasn't picked up each and every week. Since I consume mostly whole foods, grow some of my own foods, compost, recycle, use recycled shopping bags, carry my own water bottle etc, etc... I produce VERY little trash. Usually, I only put out one bag per month yet am charged the same as someone that puts out trash four times per month. There should be a better system to reward those whom are eco-conscious and live simple.

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Ted W about 5 years ago

I would generally agree. I like that Austin has the small green barrels that cost the least and I chose that. (I'm the only person on the block with the green barrel.) I put out the trash once a week. I actually at one point put the trash out every other week, but I got flies and maggots in my trash and after that I put the trash out every week no matter if it isn't enough to fill the barrel.

I think the main reason for the fee is that the trash truck still has to come through the neighborhood once a week to pickup everyone else's trash and our fees cover that. Even if we were to only put the trash out once a month, there would still be pickup for the rest of our neighbors and that operating cost would still have to be covered. Probably if there was some way to reduce the frequency of the truck driving through at all that can reduce or drop the trash fee.

I suppose what could be a reasonable option would be to just forgo paying the trash fee all together and maybe working out an agreement with a neighbor to put your one bag in their bin or you can buy a curbside pickup sticker for the one bag you do have. There's a sticker to place on trash bags being thrown out that don't fit in the bin.

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Brian Peterson about 5 years ago

Or at least smaller garbage and recycling containers to match less densely occupied homes.

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Jim Rath about 5 years ago

There are new 21-gallon trash bins.  Switching only saves you a whopping 75 cents though (from the 32-gallon bin).

I suggested to the City that they offer biweekly service (like for recyclables).  Dunno if that sounds like a good idea to y'all.

The City won't let you stop trash service, unfortunately.  I think they want to avoid a potential nuisance of trash piling up for weeks at a residence.

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Naomi Naomi about 5 years ago

I wish the city would offer a composting service too. 

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Chris F about 5 years ago

I'm with you Christopher.  I generate very little trash.  My 30 gallon bin only goes out about every 6 weeks, and it's not even full.  I was offended when the huge 90 gallon blue bin was foisted upon my property, as I only filled the little "crate" about once every two-three months.  The 90 gallon bin gets filled about every 9-10 months, if that.

It does seem like a huge waste of manpower and gasoline for 2 trucks to drive through every week, one for trash and one for small brush.  Seriously?  Brush once a week?  No one in my neighborhood prunes their trees and shrubs every week, hardly once a year.  That should be put on a 4-6 month schedule along with the large brush pickup.  I tend to just bury my small brush in the backyard anyway (or let it dry out and run over it with the mulching mower), rather than tieing it up like a nice little Xmas present and dragging it to the curb.  The recycle every other week seems way too much.  Most of my neighbors can't even figure out what the cycle is.

I wasn't aware of the 21-gallon bin option until recently, though like Jim mentioned, it's a whole 75 cents lower.  I probably will change to that, especially since I read that Director Gedert will be proposing a huge increase in our trash pickup during budget-planning next month.

The 21-gallon bin should be cheap, cheap, cheap to reward the near-zero wasters, but I dare say that will take a lengthy rate-case battle similar to the current proposed AE electric increase.

And for Naomi, I believe that Director Gedert is planning to propose a composting service.  That's another program which will be zero benefit to me as well.  I built two compost bins in my backyard 18 years ago which are still holding strong.  What we need instead of having yet another bin shoved on us for composting with accompanying flat fee charges, is to educate people with yards how to compost their own organic materials and have apartment complexes build community compost bins on the shared green area.  What are we going to have another truck burning expensive gasoline, spewing CO2 emmissions and hiring more staff to come out weekly and pickup our compost-only bins?  It seems that may be the future plan.  Haul that nice organic compost away (at our cost) and mix it with the sewer waste sludge, chipped brush clippings, and make more Dillo Dirt.

I think the non-recyclable, non-compostable landfill trash should be picked up weekly, as that can get pretty nasty (cat litter, dog poo, raw meat packages).  The smallest bins shouldn't have a rate increase (but I expect they will). 

The recycling should have a choice of bin sizes, and could be "on call", i.e. if you call no more than 2x/month (which is what they are driving anyway) they pick up and you pay a pick up fee.  If you don't call, you don't pay.

The small-brush should be combined with the large brush pickup, much less often, or also be "on call".

The upcoming composting service will hopefully have an opt-out for those of us who compost on our own property.

...and expect a Solid Waste rate case coming right on the heals of the electric rate case.  No rest for the wicked, as they say.

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Coaaustin Resource Recovery admin almost 5 years ago

Thank you all for your feedback and positive discussion regarding our City’s curbside collection services.  There were numerous points discussed above, so we will try to address each item.

The City adopted a pay-as-you-throw rate structure in the 1990s. As many of you know, the current system is set up so that customers who generate and dispose of more waste pay more than customers who generate less waste and recycle/compost more.

There is a base cost inherent in actually collecting the trash – costs associated with the trucks, fuel, workers’ salary, etc.  These costs are incorporated in the trash cart fees.  Austin Resource Recovery (formerly Solid Waste Services) is in the process of reevaluating its entire fee structure.  It is our goal to continue ensuring that customers who generate less trash pay a lower rate than customers who generate more trash. We hear your concern that a greater difference between the cost of a 21-gallon cart and a 32-gallon cart is needed to encourage the switch and we are taking that into consideration while we evaluate the fee structure. We will also always consider the financial impact on our customers when we look at the rates.

Currently, Austin Resource Recovery provides weekly collection of trash and yard trimmings as well as every-other-week collection of recycling.  At the end of December 2011, Austin City Council adopted the Department’s Master Plan.  The Master Plan is available online and provides a variety of strategies for us to achieve Zero Waste, including providing curbside composting services, returning to weekly recycling services, and eventually shifting to every other week collection of trash.  These services will be modified over time and in consideration of annual budget cycles.  In particular, a shift to every-other-week trash service will have to be preceded by some discussion with State agencies sinceTexasStatelaw requires communities to ensure weekly collection of residential trash.  For more information about the Department’s Master Plan, please visit:   http://www.austintexas.gov/department/zero-waste-2040

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I agree with you Christopher.  It would be like charging everyone who checks out of the grocery store the same price, regardless of how much or how little they purchase.  We should all be responsible for the things we take in and the things that we leave behind, and we should be charged accordingly.

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Dr May about 3 years ago

Any updates on this? I was shocked to learn that we have to continue to pay for trash service in Austin even though we are at zero waste. Seems like a backasswards way to operate as there should be encouragement for achieving zero waste not a penalty. If the city is going to force every resident to pay for trash whether they want the service or not, it should just be called yet another in the long line of taxes we are forced to pay.

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Coaaustin Resource Recovery admin about 3 years ago

Thank you for your comment. As mentioned previously, costs are associated with collecting trash – trucks, fuel, employee salaries, vehicle maintenance, etc. These costs are covered by monthly fees on residents’ utility bills. In addition to trash services, fees also cover the cost of weekly yard trimmings collection and biweekly recycling collection. It’s important to note that State law currently requires residents to receive weekly trash service, so residents aren’t able to “opt out” of the service.

In October 2012, the City implemented a per-gallon rate structure in response to customer feedback and as a way to streamline the way rates are assessed. The goal is to help residents choose the cart size that works for them and encourage more residents to reduce the amount of trash they generate and throw away. Carts 64-gallons and smaller cost $0.16 per gallon; the 96-gallon cart costs $0.25 per gallon. See below for current monthly rates, as of January 2014.

Trash Cart Size // Monthly Rates 24-gallon // $13.35* 32-gallon // $14.60* 64-gallon // $19.75* 96-gallon // $33.50* *Includes base fee of $9.50.

While we are working towards Zero Waste, we are not there yet. Our rate structure balances our requirement to provide curbside service with our desire to recognize the citizens who reduce and recycle as much as possible.

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Jason Spangler over 2 years ago

I use the 21 or 24 gallon trash bin (different sources state different volume), but still only need to take it out for collection once every few weeks (due to low waste, composting, recycling). Can an every smaller cart be offered?

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