Augusta residents are less than a month from a shift in their household routines.
Starting on June 3, a Monday, garbage, recycling, yard and other waste collection will change to a single day each week, as the city begins a new contract with Advanced Disposal and Inland Service Corp.
As many as 8,000 more households will be forced to use the service as it becomes mandatory throughout consolidated Augusta-Richmond County, except in the city limits of Hephzibah and Blythe.
The largest obstacle is letting the public know about the single service day, Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson said.
In all likelihood, customers will have a different waste company, different staff aboard a new truck and a different collection day than either of the two they’ve had for the past five years, Johnson said.
The consequence of thousands of households forgetting to take the trash out would be an issue, so Environmental Services launched a large marketing campaign Saturday involving billboards, digital advertising and mailers. It’s also been holding monthly cleanup events to raise awareness.
“We’ve tried to sprinkle them throughout the community,” Johnson said.
Deputy Environmental Services Director Lori Videtto pushed the new program at a town hall meeting Thursday in Harrisburg.
“Recycling will take a lot of the trash out of your trash can,” she said.
Videtto said as much as 80 percent of trash that goes to the landfill can be recycled in containers the city provides, with glass still excluded.
Waverly homeowner Vic Baker said he welcomed disposing of all his family’s garbage and recycling on a single day. However, the family already fills its recycling bins to the top, he said, and wouldn’t want to pay more for reduced service.
“It would be crazy for the rates to go up at all if they’re cutting back on their service and they’re saving on the vehicles,” Baker said.
The city also is eliminating free curbside tire disposal. Johnson said the program was often abused by businesses seeking a free way to dispose of multiple tires. It will be replaced with monthly tire collection events, he said.
Roving cleanup trucks will help out for a few weeks when a customer is missed or forgets to take out the trash, Johnson said.
Though the city is offering a smaller can at a reduced rate or an extra container for an additional charge, it will begin the program with every household using containers they already have.
“We’re going to get through the major shift before we start switching cans and can sizes,” Johnson said.
The program starts in June, and bills are generated in July, but Johnson said he’ll likely propose that the Augusta Commission not adjust rates until next year.
“We didn’t want a 30-day window for 30,000 households to switch service,” he said.
There’s one other significant change with the new service. A new compressed natural gas station at 3035 Tobacco Road, where nearly all garbage trucks and any other CNG-powered vehicles can fill up, is nearly completed. The facility is only the second of its kind in Georgia.
A fleet of CNG-powered garbage trucks was parked at a new Inland Service facility Friday, awaiting duty.
David Vance of Inland said you can stand behind the trucks’ running exhaust and breathe.
“There’s almost zero emissions on these trucks,” he said. “It’s the cleanest burning engine you can purchase today.”
The trucks produce the same amount of fluorocarbons in two months that a diesel engine makes in an hour, he said.
Touted as a way to help Augusta’s air pollution status, the CNG decision brought months of commission debate. Democratic state Sen. J.B. Powell called requiring waste haulers to be environmentally friendly “communism.”
The move cost several small haulers the work they had done since consolidation, though Advanced and Inland agreed to work with two of the subcontractors.
South Augusta landowner Marion Wiggins, for whom Augusta trash service will soon be required, isn’t happy with the change.
“The dictators downtown seem to think that everybody lives in a subdivision,” he said.
Wiggins characterizes his homestead as a rural mini-farm that produces significant garbage, more than would fill the new cart he’ll be required to pay for. For the past 30 years, he’s paid for a small dumpster to dispose of his trash and that of his elderly relatives. His area off Bennock Mill Road has hired its own trash service for years and would like to keep it that way, he said.
“This one-size-fits-all thing is ridiculous,” Wiggins said.