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City of Birmingham approves a new uniform trash bin system 


The City of Birmingham is launching a uniform garbage cart system for all its residential homes. Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin recommended, and the Birmingham City Council approved $6.5 million to purchase, assemble and distribute 100,000 large trash bins.

“This is a very progressive step forward,” Woodfin said. “Birmingham will now be aligned with best practices of most cities in this country when it comes to trash pickup. This is a win for our refuse collectors and a win for our residents.”

Each Birmingham residential home will receive one complimentary 96-gallon garbage cart. These industrial bins keep trash protected from animals and weather elements. They will be serviced using new automated side loader refuse trucks with other existing trucks being retrofitted with special tippers.   

“This has been talked about for decades, but thanks to this administration and the council, our first automated refuse truck should be hitting the ground soon,” said Josh Yates, director of the Department of Public Works. “It’s a long time coming, and it feels great.”

In about nine weeks from when the vendor’s contract is officially signed, the system will be incrementally rolled out in batches beginning with 25,000 carts. The carts will be divided equally among the city’s four waste districts. The second batch of 25,000 should be ready for distribution by January.

In all, the garbage carts should be fully distributed within the next two years. Special trucks are needed to accommodate them and are being delivered to the city. A slower supply chain has caused some delays. In the meantime, some existing trucks are being retrofitted with the special tippers, but these will be for backup use primarily.

“There are many benefits to these garbage carts,” Yates said. “Their use limits risk for the refuse collectors who have what is considered to be one of the top 5 most dangerous jobs in the country,” according to Yates. Workers have been pinned and hurt while out collecting trash in various terrains. Currently, each truck has two to three collectors and one driver. This system will reduce that number to one driver.

“When you have a truck that can lift, you can put employees in other places; put more staff in alleys for cleanup, allow more staff to pick up brush and litter, increase grass cutting, and help our city in many different ways,” Yates said.

Once a resident receives their uniform garbage cart, their trash pickup will go from twice a week to once. All trash should be inside the carts. Any garbage that is not inside the container will not be collected.

The carts will also be equipped with a smart chip that associates it with a specific address, like a serial number. The chip also allows for the collection of data such as when the carts are lifted and dumped. A successful pilot program launched in 2020 and tested this system with 2,400 homes.

If any additional garbage carts are needed, they will be available for purchase. More details regarding the uniform garbage cart rollout will be shared soon.