What is this latest scheme of the city: to make trash at the curb more attractive?

They are handing out industrial dumpsters, and the large, default size is normally used in cities to collect the garbage of a whole block — where garbage is collected daily. They are a hideous eyesore, out of place in a residential setting. Moreover, the scheme is an excessive means of addressing what is a variable need.

What about the current system wasn't working? People can put out what waste they have, from a small bag to five bins. For most people, the amount varies from week to week. Those who put out bags have nothing to bring back in. Bins on wheels tend to blow around the street when left empty at the curb.

Some years ago, large garbage cans — still smaller than the default model on offer — were banned because, once full, they were too heavy to lift. That is not the case with bags of garbage or the size of garbage cans currently in use.

The new toter one may well be too heavy to lift, which requires the additional technology being proposed: a bin that latches onto a truck, which the truck lifts and dumps. But what about the homeowner, who instead of having a few manageable bins now has one heavy one?

Someone inexperienced at the Public Works Department has his priorities out of line and is in love with new technology beyond the needs of a small town.

Remember the other failed ideas — speed control measures that were put in and taken out a few years later? For waste, we had the modern concept of recycling. We sorted at the household level and paid to have those bins collected at the curb.

Then someone had a dubious scheme to have a single source of garbage, a step backward in a city where people were already sorting waste and which assured any recyclables would be coated with last night's leftovers.

In the end, only metals were pulled out with a magnet. Glass was crushed in the truck, and plastics were mostly unrecyclable. That misguided decision cost a fortune and we paid for it, with the result of no household collection and no one held accountable for poor judgment. How efficient is it to have everyone take their meager amount of recyclables to the dump sites?

Recycling does not pay, I was told. Maybe not here, but it serves an environmental goal, not a profit center. If the city wanted a new waste plan, it could have reverted to collecting recycling from homes. Instead, we are getting huge, ugly dumpsters and high tech trucks. Anyone who has lived in a city sees the time it takes to load and empty each dumpster, where there is only one per block. How long will it take to load the bin in front of each house, blocking the street in the meantime?

When this project is seen as an obvious failure, will we be consigned to a shared neighborhood dumpster, where we walk to dump our waste each day?

If people decide to just put out their small bag of trash, as there is no need to drag out a dumpster, will their trash not be picked up?

And last but not least, who is profiting from this commercial venture, and at what cost?

Kerry Abbott lives in Harrisonburg.

(9) comments


These new, large bins are fantastic! They are the same as those used by Waste Management. No complaints from me.


Anyone notice how much filthier the burg and R'ham county has gotten in the last 10 years ?

Lots more litter and you can get a whiff of human urine when you walk downtown.

It seems very... progressive.


Rockingham county is progressive? I think your analysis needs work; any perceived increase in trash is likely due to the increase in population, not political affiliation.


Okay. Ya caught me. Ya caught the Toter (with apologies to Ron White).

J Bitting

Ms. Abbott makes several good points and closes with "at what cost". What cost indeed, for a city that can't get a new high school built. There was little advance notice of this (I got my postcard after the original deadline) and as far as I know, no public input. I think the public is due more information from out city mothers and fathers.


It was in the news back in October, but I agree, they could have done more outreach.


Why so angry? The Public Works Department told me the reason for the new trash cans was to reduce workers compensation claims for injuries related to lifting heavy cans. I terms of the size, you can request a 48 gallon can instead of a 96 gallon can. And I'm not sure there are many "pretty" garbage cans out there. In terms of recycling, the city had to switch methods because the previous collector stopped collecting. Next time, call the appropriate city department to see what's what.


You’re right LVW. I think Mr. Abbott has valid point or two but conspicuously absent (irrespective of Workmans Comp claims) is the potential for repetitive motion and other injury suffered by individuals who remove our refuse. I recently saw a published number on pounds of trash each City sanitation worker handles per year and it is immense. IMO, that is a compelling reason to mechanize the handling of trash as much as possible. I hope the other issues can be suitably addressed.

Additionally, I think the Public Works Department deserves much credit and praise for how they’ve handled the ongoing pandemic situation. My trash collection has not been missed once during that time period. Streets and sidewalks adjoining my home are in excellent shape. Those City employees, and the others who keep day-to-day things running smoothly deserve recognition.


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