NEW TAMPA - The twice-a-week ritual of dragging trash cans to the curb in northeast Tampa will end in a few weeks.
Beginning in August, homeowners in Tampa Palms and New Tampa will receive 95-gallon garbage containers and 65-gallon carts for recyclables to roll curbside for pickups by Hillsborough County contract haulers.
It is a part of the county's plan to modernize disposal collections in its service area, which includes 270,000 customers spanning unincorporated Hillsborough and Tampa neighborhoods north of Fowler Avenue.
The county, which always has had a garbage-hauling contract for Tampa Palms and New Tampa, plans to roll out a fleet of trucks with attached robotic arms to begin making automated collection pickups in October.
"It's a greener system," said Kim Byers, transition manager at Hillsborough's Solid Waste Department. "It will help increase recycling by 35 percent."
The new system has been in the works for more than a year.
For the first time in about 17 years, Hillsborough officials decided to seek bids for its new garbage and recycle collection services. Early this year, county commissioners approved an automated garbage plan that likely will lower collection rates $20 to $30 a year.
The three hauling companies -- Republic Services, Waste Management and Waste Services, which recently changed its name to Progressive Waste Solutions -- will continue to provide pickup services because they submitted the lowest bids.
But Progressive Waste Solutions will replace Waste Management as the service hauling in Tampa Palms and New Tampa beginning in October.
The county's residential garbage customers will continue to receive twice-a-week garbage collection and once-a-week recycling and yard waste pickups.
Commercial customers may negotiate with any of the three haulers.
Brad van Rooyen of West Meadows is excited about plans for the new collection bins this fall. He says their uniform look will enhance the neighborhood's appearance on collection days.
"You have people in neighborhoods with big (garbage) cans, little cans, cracked cans and no cans," says van Rooyen, a member of the Tampa Palms Open Space and Transportation (TPOST) Community Development District Board of Supervisors and president of the West Meadows and Promenade homeowners associations.
Thanks to his children, who learned about the benefits of recycling at school, van Rooyen and his family recycle their plastics, bottles and paper items.
Kristin Mallia of Tampa Palms also describes her family as "big recyclers." She delivers at least three bins of recyclables a week to her daughters' school during the academic year.
Mallia is eager to see how the new county program works.
She said she especially is pleased about the expanded, automated service, which will allow residential customers to recycle metal cans, glass, any paper that tears, juice and soy cartons and plastic bags from grocery stores.
Bill Edwards, president of the Tampa Palms Owners Association, said his only worry is whether the large-size carts will fit in the neighborhood's garages.
The automated pickup system allows garbage truck drivers to remain in their vehicles during pickups, a major safety improvement for a dangerous job, Byers said.
Yard debris will be the only items not placed in plastic containers.
Van Rooyen said he is thrilled everyone will have the same heavy-duty, commercial grade containers. "Everyone will have a lid on their crash can, finally," he said.