Every Other Week Garbage Pick-Up

Here’s a little something we noticed in the October edition of the City of Tacoma’s News You Can Use (pdf):

Heads up! In spring 2013, Solid Waste Management begins a 10-month-long phased implementation of the switch to every-other-week garbage collection. It depends on where you live in Tacoma as to when your collection frequency will change. We’ll reach out to households by phone and mail as the change approaches specific areas. Find the most up-to-date information about the switch to every-other-week garbage collection at www.TacomaRecycles.org/everyotherweek.

Okay, so someone may have jumped the gun a little in announcing the switch, but it’s possible we could be seeing less frequent pick-up of our trash soon.

Last year the City tried out an every-other-week garbage pick-up pilot program, which was not without contention. The proposal has made its way to the Environment and Public Works Committee, and neighborhood council presentations are being made.

The proposed implementation plan calls for city-wide implementation in 2013. The program would save money in the long-run, but project implementation would initially cost more than it saves, due in part to the need to purchase larger replacements for residential containers, and to hire 21 temporary employees to swap out containers and go door-to-door to explain the program to residents.

Projections are that every-other-week pick-up would decrease the costs of collection by somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million annually, but one-time costs of implementation and container purchase would add up to $1.7 million and $2.2 million, respectively.

Public Works staff brought the proposal to the Environment and Public Works Committee last week, requesting a do-pass, but the idea of hiring temporary workers for a new program at a time when lay-offs are in the near future for current employees raised questions for the Committee. Discussion ensued of whether the temp positions would be union, of whether the cost is included in the budget, and of ways to ensure that Public Works employees laid off in the next round of City cuts could apply for the positions.

The Committee ultimately decided to defer consideration of the “do pass” request until Public Works staff had worked with Human Resources regarding the timing of the layoffs and hiring of the temporary positions.

So, it’s not a done deal, but the discussion continues. What are your thoughts?

Read more on the every-other-week program from the City, or from the Tacoma Daily Index.

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William Swigart

If we are going to every two week pickup, then a couple of things come to mind. We the rate payers should get the savings in reduced monthly rates, additionally all pickups should occur in the same week on the same day. Remembering whether the pickup for garbage is this week, and recycle this week or next and then what about yard waste…just another tidbit of information we have to be concerned with. Now on the other hand, if the solid waste department would provide weather proof stickers with the actual pick up dates each year that would help.

October 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jim C

The stated goal of the program is to increase waste “diversion” (reduce the amount of solids going to the landfill) but I fail to see how changing the frequency of the pickups accomplishes that: it’s the same amount of garbage, especially if I get a second container free, just picked up every other week.  With steep budget and service cuts inevitable anyways, it’s hard to think of a good justification for spending several million dollars upfront on what could amount to a frivolous program (haven’t we all heard the “it will make money after it pays for itself” argument before?  Don’t recycling costs increase if the diverted solids are recycled?)

Methinks consultants with something to gain have a hand in this proposal, it smells fishy to me…

@Willam: The city’s website has a waste collection calendar, you put in your address and it displays your schedule in a printable calendar format, it’s pretty slick.


October 19, 2012 at 11:27 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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It seems pretty obvious that a fortune could be saved simply in fuel costs.  Cutting in half the number of times per year that a fleet of very low <span class=“caps”>MPG</span> rigs drive all over the city would save a pile of money in fuel costs alone.  And as to the matter of passing the savings on to us, that has never been the intent.  The intent is to cuts costs within the Solid Waste Department, not cut costs for the customer.

October 19, 2012 at 11:38 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jim C

@jd:  not necessarily.  Since we’re assuming that the volume of solid waste to haul every two weeks is the same the capacity needed to haul it can’t decrease: so does the city double the number of trucks it sends out on garbage day, or send out bigger trucks (more gas?) If the routes need to be made more efficient, why not do that without completely overhauling the way the service is delivered?  I should probably read the city’s literature before asking all these questions, but I don’t think a “fortune” is going to be saved by the city’s waste management dept. anytime soon.

And honestly, I really just wanted a chance to use my horrible pun, i don’t truly believe there is a garbage conspiracy in Tacoma (but rest assured <span class=“caps”>SOMEONE</span> is making money off this.)

October 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davie

The change from once per week collection to every other week collection is just a precursor to the fully realized changes that Tacoma’s greenies have in store for the citizens.

In just a few years when everybody has been properly groomed to accept this state of affairs we will be informed that the every other week collections will be changed to every three weeks and then later on to monthly collection. There is no stopping the green revolution. Only when our neighborhoods resemble a third world slum will the greenies be happy.

October 20, 2012 at 9:05 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I just read an article in Urban Farm magazine about how Portland went to a every other week trash pickup and a weekly recycle and composting pickup.  They cut trash by 40% and increased recycling significantly this way.

October 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Fred, I guess the one bit of joy you can derive out of all this green being forced upon you is the joy you get out of all of your anger and anguish.  We all know how you feel about trees and zoo animals.  Imagine the outpouring of angst we’ll get from you as the government forces us to try to take better care of the planet.

October 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If you request a switch your level of service at the same time that the city utilities solid waste department phases this in your area you might have headaches.Check your Utility Bill closely and contest any overcharge.

I was still being overcharged for a 60 gallon garbage container service level on my bimonthly utility bill during the period in which my pickup had changed to the Every Other Weekly Garbage pickup area.
I had also switched to 30 Gallon Garbage Every Other Weekly service and mentioned this change directly in person to their accounts/billing department on October 30,2013 (also paying a previous utility bill at the time) because it was too costly for the 60 gallon Garbage service level.
The desk accounts/billing Clerk kindly handled my switch.

If you get a 30 Gallon Garbage Service level you get a 60 gallon container for Every Other Weekly service.If you choose a 60 Gallon Garbage Service level you get two 60 Gallon Containers for their Every Other Week Garbage Service.
They Solid Wastle did this correctly and hauled off my old broken wheel old style 60 Gallon Garbage container off and gave me a new style 60 Gallon Garbage container along with a 60 gallon paper recycling container that I had also requested early November 2013.Good Job

On the other hand it was accounts/billing that someone goofed and the gals there were to say dense/slow they couldn’t comprehend the EOW change or it was a previous input error on their part.
I had mentioned being overcharged for service on several occasions there with no satisfaction (I wasn’t angry at the time I just desired correction) though I did become arrogant/verbally hostile made a scene with a desk worker later in person on Jan 7,2014 (The bill was due the week before).The gal repeatedly like a parrot
“according to our computer you have 60 Gallon Garbage Service” to which I stated that I had changed my service level to 30 Gallon Service in October.She said that I had a 60 Gallon Container (which I had said correct) to which she said Oh you have 60 gallon service to where I said no maam I had changed to 30 Gallon Service for Every Other Weekly Service because in my area we get a 60 Gallon Container for Every Other Week service.I even was on the phone to someone at the desk but put on hold -no answer.I mentioned that I was being stonewalled on the phone and the desk clerk took the phone receiver and hung up for me.I was getting nowhere with this and said that I refused to pay this bill and to go ahead and send the SWAT team to my house after cutting off my service. I was livid and highly irritated because of their lack of comprehension.Some other worker looked at this and she also couldn’t comprehend that if one had 30 Gallon Every Other Weekly Service that the customer got one 60 Gallon Garbage container.I gave up and payed the bill very angry though telling the clerk that it wasn’t a personal gripe between us but that I mentioned that I would seek an attorney.I left.

The next day I phoned the Solid Waste Department and told the lady on the phone that I had no resolution for my service,I had made multiple correction attempts and was being overcharged.I had hoped to talk directly to a person whom headed that department as I think a director long ago as a friend.It helps a lot to know big people,heads of departments.
I was transferred on the phone to account’s/billing (Oh God!).The lady on the phone said to listen to her with no interruption on my part please.I did interrupt when (again like a parrot)
she repeated that I had a 60 gallon can so I had 60 gallon service.
I insulted her.She was taken aback (stunned a little bit by my little rude insult).I stated that I had a 60 Gallon Garbage container because I had switched on October 30th,2013 to the 30 Gallon Garbage Service level.
The lady billing/accounts representative said that previously when I made a scene the day before I had hung up on the telephone on her (I wasn’t going to wait ALL DAY during their lunch HOUR and beyond till the end of the day at that Desk).I also told her that I would have the police show up at the Utility Building to force a correction because of the higher people/friends in power that I personally knew/grew up with.She said to me “You have that kind of power” to which I stated Yes,Maam. I had also mentioned about getting an attorney or even possibly getting a judge to force an injunction or something like that.
I also told her that I had all receipts,dates,times,I.D.‘s of workers that I had talked to,city utility documentation and photographs of my one 60 Gallon Garbage container.The representative scolded me for my insults (who wouldn’t be frustrated of numerous attempts and non reasoning parrots .She did admit that I was understandably frustrated and credited me for the incorrect billing for the time period.I apologized for my hostility/anger/insult though.She said she would mark me down and note this insult I refuse to pay for service that I don’t owe.

January 9, 2014 at 6:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I can understand workers being wrong but I will not like being forced to pay for services that I don’t get.One can never know because often times someone is overbilled because of a possible embezzlement possibility on the part of greedy/corrupt accountants/billing workers (Hey if tens of thousands of ratepayers were overcharged that would add up to lots of money right?). I am not accusing them of this though but there was clear resistance on their part either because of this new Every Other Week service change,someone forgot to input my service change or some other possible reason (programmer error?).

If I had not changed service levels this would have become a never ending trauma/torture costing me around $35 a month for 60 gallon service I didn’t need (comes to roughly $420 a year).Why pay for what you don’t owe or need.Cutting back to 30 gallon garbage service level made sense to me.

Advice if you’re going through this every other weekly garbage pickup don’t change your service levels at the same time because of confusion on the part of the accounts/billing department.Perhaps I was maybe one of their first customers whom had this problem and when recognized as a troubled issue it will be more closely looked at or corrected.It was hell going through this seemingly unending frustration and long resolution (I really won’t know if it is truly corrected though until several months from now perhaps until the month of even April 2014 (no I don’t even mean February 2014 (this is due to several other credits due to me for other reasons-not going into a longer discussion)This was frustration worse than even the government healthcare websites with the errors,pages not loading,phone lines jammed.Ouch

January 9, 2014 at 6:17 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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If I had not changed service levels this would have become a never ending trauma/torture costing me around $35 a month for 60 gallon service I didn’t need (comes to roughly $420 a year).

Edit sorry I meant around $35 a month EXTRA for 60 gallon service than for 30 Gallon service.

January 9, 2014 at 6:33 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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