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Politics

Hillsborough spreading word about garbage system changes

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Published:   |   Updated: July 24, 2013 at 06:18 AM

TAMPA - Gray and blue bins will soon be rolled out to about 260,000 households for garbage and recycling in unincorporated neighborhoods of Hillsborough County.

The bins, essential to the county's new automated garbage collection system, will be delivered at the rate of 10,000 a day starting next week. The new collection system will begin operation the week of Sept. 30.

The frequency of service remains the same: Garbage pickup twice a week, recycling and yard-waste collection once a week. The only change is swapping the larger, uniform receptacles for the motley array of customer-owned bins, many of which don't have covers.

The new carts are easy to tilt, push or pull, and will include instructions, collection days and service provider information.

Hillsborough officials say they're making an effort to herald the arrival of the 95-gallon, almost 4-foot-tall gray bins and 65-gallon recycling carts. Posters and billboards showing the new carts are popping up in neighborhoods and public service announcements are going out on county television, social media and the Web.

If customers decide the carts are too large, they can trade them at no cost between Jan. 15 and March 15.

"We're distributing 95-gallon and 65-gallon and asking them to test drive them," said Kim Byer, manager of the automated collection system.

County commissioners made the decision to go to automated service in January, citing cost savings, fewer environmental impacts and worker safety. More than 7 million Florida households - some in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Polk County - already are served by garbage trucks fitted with robotic arms.

Last year, commissioners decided to bid out garbage collection rather than renegotiate existing contracts with the three companies that had been hauling garbage in Hillsborough since 1996. Automated service was a requirement of the request for bids.

The same three companies that handled garbage collection under the old system - Waste Management, Republic Services and Waste Services Inc. - were awarded the contracts after they submitted the lowest bids.

But because of the competition with other companies, the contracts came in at an annual savings for residents of $8.42 compared to this year.

County officials say if they hadn't put garbage collection out to bid, residential rates likely would have risen next year.

msalinero@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7303

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