Cowtown to Charge for Overflowing Trash

Overflowing trash can | Image by Karen Hermann/Shutterstock

New smart trucks in Fort Worth are tracking overflowing trash cans as the City institutes new fees for garbage bins with excessive trash.

“If … your lid is up an inch or two, that’s not an overloaded cart,” said Christian Harper, contract services administrator for the Solid Waste Division of Fort Worth’s Environmental Services Department, per NBC 5 DFW.

“But typically, we will find … the lid is completely open,” he explained. “There’s a full bag or even two bags stacked on top of one another. And that’s really what we’re considering an overloaded cart.”

Residents will be charged $6 per overflowing garbage pan along with $3 per loose trash bag. Harper explained that the city has been spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on these violations, as the city’s contractor, Waste Management (WM), has been charging the city.

“We probably had anywhere from, last year, 30,000-plus extra bags outside the carts and almost an equal number of overloaded carts,” he said, per NBC 5.

However, Harper maintained that the city’s goal is not to burden Fort Worth residents with additional costs.

“Our goal is not to have a revenue source,” he said, reported NBC 5. “Our goal is to eliminate these charges on the waste management side by better resident compliance.”

Harper said the violations will be tracked with new smart trucks from WM, adding that the trucks will also be used to investigate complaints from customers.

He said the trucks will have cameras that monitor the curbsides of every home and the truck driver will flag any violations in their digital system. A WM employee will then determine whether the violation is legitimate and send a report to the city if it is.

Harper added that residents will be able to contest the fees.

“If there’s any question on the residents’ part of either, ‘Hey, I got missed,’ or, ‘Why did I get a charge?’ All of that information can be accessed and shared with the customer so they can see,” he said, per NBC 5.

A spokesperson from WM insisted the images taken from the smart trucks will be secure.

“WM will never share the images or customer information with third parties for those third parties’ own marketing or data mining purposes and use,” the spokesperson said in an email to NBC 5. “The purpose of the photographs or videos is to educate and inform so we can improve collection service, diversion, and recycling.”

“If there is a service issue, images are shared with the service address customer of record,” the statement continued. “Images may also be shared with the local jurisdiction to illustrate service issues or success stories in the community.”

Meanwhile, the issues of trash and overall city cleanliness remain prevelant in the City of Dallas as well. A satisfaction survey published by the City previously found that residents largely believe the municipality does a “poor” job of maintaining cleanliness throughout city streets.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the City recently launched a code compliance dashboard to map violations and complaints across the city.

Meanwhile, local volunteer groups have taken the initiative to clean up the city. Additionally, the Metroplex Civic & Business Association recently launched a new “Adopt-A-Block” cleanup program to encourage local companies to take part in cleaning up Dallas.

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