Gainesville: Switch trash cart and save some cash

The City of Gainesville will implement a new program that could save some residential trash customers between $72-$90 a year in fees.

The City Commission on Thursday approved the $44,000 cart evaluation program, which is aimed at helping Gainesville residents “right-size” their garbage containers.

“This program came out of a discussion of some equity issues in the community,” said Mike Heimbach, a sustainability manager with the city. “Some lower-income neighbors may have carts that are bigger than what they need.”

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The program will send employees into the field four weeks in a row to examine how fully people are utilizing the large (95 gallon) and medium (65 gallon) sized garbage cart, Heimbach said in a telephone interview with Mainstreet Daily News.

About 16,000 of the city’s 28,000 residential trash customers use the large or medium sized carts.

Any time during the four-week period that a large or medium cart is filled to less than 80 percent, the evaluation team will leave a hangtag on the cart suggesting the customer consider switching to a lower cart size.

Moving from a large to a medium cart would save customers $7.50 a month or $90 a year, while moving from a medium cart to a small cart (35 gallon) would save customers $6 a month or $72 a year.

Normally, the city charges $14.25 to change cart sizes, but it will waive that fee for any customers who get a hangtag on their cart.

Heimbach said the city will wait until the first part of 2022 to initiate the cart size survey. They don’t want to complete the evaluation during the holiday season because cart utilization during holiday vacations and holiday festivities does not reflect normal usage.

The city won’t benefit financially from customers switching to smaller carts, but Heimbach said smaller carts may in turn encourage more recycling.

“[The evaluation program] is about fairness and equity,” Heimbach said. “It’s just good government.”

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