Butte-Silver Bow is rethinking the way it takes out the trash in a new proposal that could mark the biggest changes to Butte waste removal in generations.
Residents would all receive the same standardized trash cans, and the city would launch a curbside recycling program under a new plan by the Public Works Department.
The county's existing waste-removal contract ends June 30, 2015, and the city is hoping to transition to standard-sized trash cans that will be issued to residents who participate in municipal garbage removal.
By moving to a uniform size, the city can outfit garbage trucks with an arm that will pick up trash cans, streamlining the garbage-removal process. The savings from that new-found efficiency will go toward the creation of a curbside recycling program, which Public Works hopes will begin in July.
“With everyone having individual garbage cans, they’re not animal proof and some don’t have lids so there’s litter in alleys that blows around the city,” said Dave Schultz, Public Works director. “We have a litter problem that detracts from the quality of life. We’re the only city in Montana without a more efficient way to collect garbage.”
Enter Giao Hoang, a Butte resident participating in AmeriCorps’ Energy Corps, who has been hired as the Public Works intern. It’s her job to determine what sort of changes must be made to municipal waste pickup to accommodate garbage trucks with mechanical arms. This may include asking some residents to put their trash in front of their homes instead of in narrow alleys, or moving all garbage cans to one side of an alley.
Hoang is also helping the city make a plan for its waste services going forward.
“I’m studying what trash bins are appropriate for Butte – 65 gallon or 95 gallon – and the trends for how (households) throw out materials or waste,” she said. “On the rides I’ve been participating in, the drivers and I have estimated that 40 to 50 percent (of garbage) can be diverted to recycling.”
If that's true, a curbside recycling program could have a big impact on the landfill -- and on taxpayers' wallets.