31 Comments

  1. What I DO think is ‘old’ is when the garbage men walked up the driveway, into the back yard to take the cans down the driveway, dump the trash and then walk the cans back up the driveway . . . Sometime in my youth, everybody was told to bring cans to the end of their driveway. After that, alley collections were discontinued, also.

    This was in WI, where our garbage collection was included in our property taxes. Here in FL, we have to contract with a company, which means there are garbage cans on the curbs and trucks in our streets every day, rather than once a week. Happened to be thinking of that early this a.m. . . . how I wish the entire subdivision would contact with one company to limit the unsightly garbage cans and the noisy trucks.

    [Gets off soapbox, throws it in the garbage.]

  2. Dilbert’s superintelligent garbageman hasn’t been seen in a long time. In Luann, Toni’s ex-boyfriend reappeared as a garbageman, seemingly reborn, but that was a few years at least. Hi and Lois had a goofy double act picking up the garbage in the distant past; I recall that one looked like a B western sidekick and had “TRASH” lettered on the front of his big hat.

    The two clowns in Gasoline Alley aren’t garbagemen proper. In a book of 60s strips it’s established that the old guy is basically a squatter in the dump, a self-appointed caretaker who also deals in junk. Sidekick Rufus is currently a janitor at City Hall. They are among the handful of characters in the strip who DON’T age.

  3. Where I live in Germany there’s two guys who walk behind the truck and pull the wheelie bins around to the back for the claw to dump them. Twenty years ago in the suburbs of Portland, OR, the truck had a claw arm that would grab the bin from the side of the road for dumping. A couple of years before that in suburban LA, the recyclables got picked up that way, but regular and green waste didn’t. The way they do it here seems more efficient, since they can get both sides of the street at the same time.

  4. Yep, here in my suburb north of Boston, the only difference between how garbage was collected in the Seventies and how it is now is that two trucks go around on garbage day, one picking up the recycling, and one picking up the garbage.

  5. @Andréa: Minneapolis has all-one-department (company?) city-wide garbage collection, and has had for decades. St. Paul had the “multiple companies, with homeowners contracting with whom the wished” system until a few months ago, when they switched to all-one. It caused a Huge uproar, with protests, law suits, frothing letters to the editor about Big Brother, etc. Sitting over on this side of the river, I was amazed that it seemed so . . . threatening to so many St. Paulites. Must be something in the water over there.

  6. “The way they do it here seems more efficient, since they can get both sides of the street at the same time.”

    It isn’t more efficient if they can do it in half the time with three times the number of people.

  7. “Sometimes employment is more important than efficiency.”

    True. I was responding to a claim about efficiency, tho.

  8. In Rochester NY we have rolling totes with mechanical lift; the garbage (weekly) seems to need to be wrestled into place while the recyclables (fortnightly, different trucks) can be grabbed from the curb if positioned properly.

    None of this is that new – we lived in an abutting suburb of Paris (Levallois-Perret) in 1977 and the municipal trash collection used rolling totes with mechanical lift.

  9. They do it in Chicago like DemetriosX’s people do. One driver, two loaders. I think it’s far more than twice as fast, if you’re talking about a driver who pulls up and stops, gets out and dumps the trash, then gets back in again and drives forward. Here, the driver pulls up, the two helpers get the bins from both sides of the alley, the driver pulls forward. All told, probably more like 5-10 times faster than the one-man way. And the one-man way means the collector has to lift the trash into the truck, which requires a yell of a lot of lifting.

  10. James Pollock – even with rising wages, fuel costs and truck time are big considerations too (especially as the trucks get more complicated and therefore more expensive). So even if you needed three times as many people do to one street in half the time you might still be saving money. (Aside from the fact that the wheelie bins tend to be efficient.)

  11. As a kid our garbage was one driver, two loaders, both sides of the alley at once. Now, it’s one driver, mechanical arm that picks up much larger bins, one side at a time. New subdivisions have no alleys, and front pick-up, so both sides at once wouldn’t work well.

  12. We have both systems, or I guess the company has both kinds of truck. They issued free wheelie bins to everyone. I don’t generate much trash, as most of it goes into the recycling. So usually have just a bag from the kitchen trash that I would put anything else it and bring out.

    I had a couple of instances where it didn’t get picked up. I happened to be watching one day, and a guy with the side-arm style drove right past it. I yelled at him to come back. He got out and stalked in annoyed fashion, then pointed at the bin on the side of the house. We had a “discussion” about that. I gather with these trucks and only one operator, they don’t like to get out for stuff they can’t grab. I don’t like it, but for now I’m using the bin.

    I need to talk to management. Unfortunately, the company had been a small one but one several contracts when the county went to single-provider everywhere and I think is over-extended. There have been reports on the news of whole streets in my city getting skipped. The City Council is not happy about that.

  13. Childhood garbage collection was cans out on the sidewalk, truck comes through with one or two guys on the back who emptied cans and put them back on the street. The style of collection where the collectors would go down the side of the house and take the cans, bring them out, then take them back apparently existed in some of the rich parts of my city well into the 90s. It’s good to be rich and well-connected.

    Now they use these riduculous wheeled bins.
    https://www.toronto.com/news-story/6168723-toronto-to-pay-more-for-turning-on-the-tap-taking-out-the-trash/
    Lots of problems. First of all, in much of the city, there is simply no place to store these things. Sure, you can drag them up the front stairs, through the house and into the tiny backyard if you have one. Then you can drag it, stinking and full of garbage, back through the house, spill it down the front stairs and curse, or you just leave it out front the whole damn time. Furthermore, they take up a lot of space on narrow sidewalks. When there is snow piled up at the curb, as often happens, they can’t be pulled up to the curb, instead, they’re stuck in snow/ice as close as you can drag them. So the automated dumping promise is more theoretical than real. This “solution” seems perfect for a suburban house with a large, front facing garage that you can keep the bins in, located in an area where it doesn’t snow.

  14. It’s fine even if it does snow, as long as you have the large yard. You just need enough space to shovel a shelf in the snow bank for the carts. But heaven forbid you not be fit.

  15. “Lots of problems. First of all, in much of the city, there is simply no place to store these things. Sure, you can drag them up the front stairs, through the house and into the tiny backyard if you have one. Then you can drag it, stinking and full of garbage, back through the house, spill it down the front stairs and curse, or you just leave it out front the whole damn time.”

    How is this unique to the type of garbage can you have?

    “When there is snow piled up at the curb, as often happens, they can’t be pulled up to the curb, instead, they’re stuck in snow/ice as close as you can drag them.”

    or this?

    “This “solution” seems perfect for a suburban house with a large, front facing garage that you can keep the bins in”

    I’ve lived in the suburbs for nearly all my life, and I’ve never encountered anyone who kept garbage cans in the garage.

  16. @James Pollock: We keep all three garbage cans (general garbage, organic recyclables, non-organic recyclables) in the garage, and we’re inner city rather than suburban. However, our garbag and recycling is picked up in the alley, not in the front of the house. (We put the cans out the night before pickup and return them to the garage after pickup is over.)

  17. @James Pollock when I was a kid in the suburbs, I didn’t know anyone with a garage who didn’t keep their garbage cans in them. (This actually applies to people in better-designed neighbourhoods too – if you have a garage the garbage is generally in there). Where do people in your area keep their garbage?

  18. “Where do people in your area keep their garbage?”

    Outside. Who wants stink, insects, and rodents inside their house?

  19. “Who wants stink, insects, and rodents inside their house?”

    This is why people keep them in the garage… Is there a regional difference here? In local usage, garage is a building where the car is parked (and stuff that you need to keep the wildlife out of but don’t want in the house is stored).

  20. @Christine: Probably not a regional difference, but possibly a difference between people who have “attached (to the house) garages” and those of us whose garages are separate buildings, thirty or more feet from the house, across a back lawn ?

  21. @Shrug – we have both kinds here, but the attached ones tend to have what is effectively an exterior wall between the house and garage, so I’ve never known that to stop people from storing the garbage in there. Of course, when I was a kid garbage was picked up weekly, and given that everyone had large houses & A/C there was little incentive to not have (landfill and recycle) garbage in the basement.

  22. I have a two-car garage, but with the table on one side, and shelves on the other, the Venerable Bronco takes up most of the rest of the space. The trash cans live on the side of the garage.

  23. Here, garbage is in plastic bags (against rodents, smell, insects) and the bags go into trash cans located in the garage (houses) or in a dedicated room in the building (apartments, sometimes with a garbage chute).
    Nobody want to go out in the cold and rain to put their trash bags into the trash cans, to the point that when it’s collection day, some will put their trash bags inside the empty trash room while the trash cans are on the curb.

  24. You people and your fancy curbside trash pick-up.

    In my neighborhood we have to schlep our trash to the local dump (er, “transfer station”) like normal people…

  25. When we moved into this – small, cheap enough for us afford, property so small that our driveway is about 5 feet from where our neighbors house starts – house we were told that we have “perimeter garbage pickup”. This was explained to us as “if you leave the garbage pail in view of the street it will be picked up.” So we had the garbage pail near the side door. Of course not everything, we found out is “garbage”. There is also “trash” and recycling and yard waste. Trash is anything that is not garbage coming from inside one’s house. (?) That has to be left at the curb as does recycling and yard waste. A few years ago we received a notice from the township that “to make it fairer” we would no longer have “rear door pickup”. Rear door is not the same perimeter it seems to me as the rear door cannot be seen from the curb. When I grieved my real estate taxes that year (garbage pickup is a line and garbage dump – or whatever they call it – is a separate line on same) I included the fact that we had lost this service – seems to me the house was worth more before.

    Garbage and household trash is picked up Mondays and Thursdays here. Originally they would shift the days for holidays, then they didn’t – so we had no pickups on the multiple Monday holidays and also Thanksgiving, as well as any other holidays which fell on same – which seemed unfair compared to Tuesday-Friday pickups, but now they are back to shifting the days when there is a holiday. Lawn waste is picked up on Wednesdays (unless there is a holiday and then Wednesday is used to help replace the missing day in the shifting of days). Our recycling used to be on Mondays (so,again, we had no pickup for Monday holidays in addition to the regular varying day holidays, but since has been moved to Tuesdays.

    Large items one has to call to have picked up (furniture, appliances…) but often of course they disappear from the side of the street long before same happens. (And the employees there don’t understand the difference between the “Town of X” and the “Village of X”. So when I call and they ask what town I am in and I tell them – they try to shift me to the village with the same name as they don’t understand they should be asking which village I am in not which town.)

    If we are going to get rid of electronic or hazardous waste we can take it special events(which all end by about 2 pm) or take it the “facility” for them. If we go to the facility we cannot be a business, must be a resident and there are an assortment of other specifications – for example – if we go there in a van it must have seats and not have a roof rack -understand, this is not for to dumping the van, just using it to take stuff to dump.

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