Republic Services estimates 80 percent of San Angelo’s residential garbage collection customers are taking advantage of curbside recycling in the first week of new automated pickup, despite the challenge of drivers and customers learning a new process.

Republic officials said most of the concerns they have fielded from customers involve their not knowing when their collection day or trash pickup point would be and drivers learning new routes.

“We anticipated there would be challenges with a change of this magnitude,” said Shane Kelton, Operations Department director for the City of San Angelo. “We’re fully confident that, in very short order, Republic Services will be smoothly delivering automated collection and curbside recycling, and customers will appreciate the service they are receiving.”

As of Monday, July 20th, garbage collection and curbside recycling occur once a week on the same day. Pickup will typically occur on the front curb if most of the homes on a street have front garages or in the alley if that’s where most of the homes’ garages are located.

The 96-gallon bins should be placed with their wheels against a curb or facing toward an alley. Bins should be no closer than 3 feet from one another, from mailboxes or from trees to give the new trucks’ hydraulic arms the space they need to grab and pick them up. The carts should also be at least 5 feet from vehicles to give trucks the necessary clearance. Improper bin placement forces Republic personnel to leave the truck, slowing service.

Company officials said collection is not operating at peak efficiency as drivers learn new routes and customers learn when and where to place their bins. To ensure all homes are serviced during the transition to the new service, Republic has deployed support trucks with men riding on the backs. The support trucks service a small portion of each route and any homes that might have been missed. After routes are completed, Republic has provided courtesy “go-back” service for customers who missed their collection day or placed their bins in the wrong spot. Company officials said the volume of questions and requests have slowed response times.

Republic’s local leadership said some streets and blocks have been missed as drivers are learning new routes. They apologized for the inconvenience and assured drivers will be fully acclimated to their routes within three to four weeks.

“While there is a learning curve for all involved, we are pleased by the community’s enthusiasm and participation thus far,” said Ray Grothaus, general manager of Republic Services. “We appreciate our customers being patient with us as we navigate the change. We understand it’s a big change, but we’ll get through it and we’ll all be the better for it.”

Customers can assist in the transition by:

  • Properly placing their bins in their collection spot by 7 a.m. on their pickup day. A map of the collection schedule is available at cosatx.us/SolidWaste.
  • Placing all materials inside one of the provided bins. Waste left on the ground or in a personal trash container will not be picked up.
  • Bagging the garbage placed in the tan bins, which prevents trash from being spilled.
  • With the exception of shredded paper, recyclables should not be bagged before being placed in the green bin.
  • Placing an “X” on old trash cans they wish to dispose of and leaving them alongside the new bins. Old cans can also be placed inside the tan bin or be picked up during free quarterly bulk pickup. Blue carts used in Republic’s pilot automated service will be retrieved by the company at a later date.
  • Filling out a disability exemption form if a physical handicap prevents a customer from moving a trash cart. The form, which requires a doctor’s signature, is available at cosatx.us/SolidWaste.
  • Filling out an online request for additional bins if they wish to have more garbage or recycling carts. The form is available at cosatx.us/SolidWaste.
  • Removing bins from streets once they have been emptied.
  • Calling Republic at 325-481-7700 or visiting cosatx.us/SolidWaste if they have questions.

The community’s initial embrace of curbside recycling has impressed Republic. Company officials expected about two-thirds of their customers would use the service.

“We have worked hard to make the transition to recycling as smooth as possible,” Grothaus said. “In no time, this will be second nature for all of us.”