neighborhood truck routes

Happy New Year! We’re going to jump right in and talk about Compost*/Recycling/Garbage truck routes.

*Oh yeah, we are full-blown Austin hippies who religiously participate in the weekly curbside composting program. Don’t act like you aren’t a smidge impressed. Next up, I’ll be a true blue Zero Waste Home disciple (but seriously…. it’s pretty cool stuff. More on this later).

Routes. Have you ever thought about this?

I’m highly interested (and when I say highly interested, I have done zero googling on this, but was shocked to know this isn’t included as a FAQ on the Austin Resource Recovery site) on how these routes are determined, and if assistance is needed (by yours truly, naturally) to suggest more efficient maps. In my extensive research, consisting of my several* walks around the neighborhood on Mondays (trash day for our ‘hood), there is an enormous amount of circling back, looping, multiple trucks in close proximity, and OH THE SMELLS.

*I’ve altered my approach to not be walking on Mondays in our neighborhood because lawdy lawdy ain’t we all grateful our taxes pay for our refuse to be picked up and taken away?! Seriously!!! This is a great thing!!!

BUT THEN. The questions.

How do you account for the capacity of the truck and allow for all the different sizes of bins that may or may not be overflowing or well under capacity? Hypothetically, some neighbors have the biggest bins and have overflowing garbage weekly. And….

  • What’s the average bin size for an Austinite?
  • What is the gallon capacity of a standard trash truck?
  • Please do the math for me – how many residential bins, on average, fit into each truck?
  • How many residential receptacles are there in the city limits?
  • And tell me more about the giant bins at apartment buildings!
  • Are there trackers in the trucks to monitor mileage and potential inefficiencies?
  • Does having to alter pickup based on holidays create a massive logistical headache and potentially force employees to work overtime to double up on shifts?
  • How many trucks does Austin Resource Recovery have for trash, recycling, and compost?
  • Do employees have odor neutralizers in the cabs of their trucks?
  • If people aren’t putting the right things in the compost, is there any way they can get caught/be held accountable?
  • Why are the trash cans that ugly fleshy brown color?
  • What’s the participation rate with the compost program?
  • How successful was the pilot program for composting and what criteria did you use to select the pilot neighborhoods?
  • What’s the gas budget for Austin Resource Recovery?
  • Where are the authorized gas pumps located throughout the city?

And aren’t those people who ask entirely too many questions so annoying? Makes me stop reading. Dorks.

Last year, I got to geek out and visit the Balcones Recycling Center in East Austin (because my boss was on the House Environmental Regulation Committee) and it was pretty much the coolest thing I got to do all session. That’s what having a kid will do to you, sheesh.

The field trip was like I was on a real Mister Rogers Neighborhood show….err… now it’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I wasn’t a fan at first, but now I love the little guy. Balcones was really well run and we got to see all the conveyor belts, bulldozers, suction tubes, paper smashers (that last one is clearly a technical term). Fifteen percent of what they receive is not able to be recycled – it’s trash – and must be transported to the landfill SO THINK ABOUT THAT next time you try to make yourself feel better by putting non-recyclable items into your cleverly colored blue recycling bin.

Clearly I have some other things I need to be doing right now. Procrastination is a STRENGTH, people!!

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