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Time to Choose Your Carts for Modernized Trash/Recycling Collection

Choose your Waste and Recycling Cart Sizes Here

  • [Select your preferred cart size for solid waste and recycling services|]

If you have questions regarding cart sizes or the selection process, please contact the Sanitation Division at (812) 349-3443 or []

May 15, 2017

For more information, please contact:

Adam Wason at, 812-349-3410

Time to Choose Your Carts for Modernized Trash/Recycling Collection

Bloomington, Ind. - It's time for City of Bloomington residents to choose their cart sizes for the new automated trash and recycling collection system coming for residents who currently receive curbside service from the City. Already in successful use throughout the country, the modernized collection system will eliminate the need for trash stickers and make possible both trash (solid waste) and weekly single stream (meaning plastics, paper and metals do not have to be separated) recycling collection. While the new system won't be fully operational until this fall, now is the time for households to choose cart sizes - one for trash and one for recyclables.

The new system, approved by City Council in March, addresses a variety of concerns: an aging, inefficient fleet of trash trucks, employee injuries from manually loading trash onto trucks and the resulting costly worker's compensation claims. Old trucks that had to be replaced anyway will be replaced with new technology-enabled trucks that will better protect the welfare of sanitation workers, maximize route efficiency and improve sanitation service to residents.

The new carts offer a clean and convenient way for residents to dispose of trash and recyclables by increasing capacity and offering a simpler single stream recycling method. The new program provides residents with carts made of a sturdy commercial-grade plastic and recycled content. Wheels provide easy movement and hinged lids contain items within the carts, minimizing animal scavenging and loose trash. Old trash cans currently in use can be recycled, if desired.

To preview the carts between now and the middle of June, the City will have viewing stations in the City Hall Atrium and the Saturday Farmers' Market, both at 401 North Morton St., and at Winslow Sports Complex at 2800 S. Highland Ave. Businesses interested in displaying the carts for the public are encouraged to contact Public Works at 812-349-3410.

According to Public Works Director Adam Wason, "We know it can be hard to visualize the new cart sizes, so we will have examples here in City Hall and out in the community for residents to look at and determine which size best suits their household's needs. I encourage anyone with questions to contact us either by phone or email. My staff and I are excited to be able to offer this modernized system and are happy to answer any questions our customers might have."

Each household will receive one cart for trash and one for recycling this fall. Residents may opt out of the recycling cart, although it is provided to each household at no cost for either the cart or weekly recycling pick-up and residents are strongly encouraged to recycle.

"This is a great step forward in one of the basic services we provide our residents. There is always a time of fine tuning with any new program, but I'm confident once it is fully operational, residents are going to appreciate the weekly, single stream recycling and the convenience of the carts. I know I'm looking forward to no longer using trash stickers!" commented Mayor John Hamilton.

Cart sizes include the following options: 35 gallons, 64 gallons, and 96 gallons. If a household wishes to receive the 64-gallon cart for both trash and recycling, they do not need to do anything. However, for residents who wish to request a combination of sizes, for example a 64-gallon recycling cart and a 35-gallon trash cart, please make your selection by visiting [|] and filling out the selection form found at the top of the page. Residents receiving City sanitation services have been sent a form in the mail, which may be used to make cart size selections. If you did not receive a form and wish to have one, please contact the Public Works Department at 812-349-3410 and one will be sent to you.

The Sanitation Department MUST receive responses by Sunday, June 18 in order for each cart selection to be included in the City's purchase of carts. Residents with no response will receive the default sizes of 64 gallons each for solid waste and recycling.

Cart size options and associated costs:

35-gallon cart (holds up to 3 standard 13-gallon kitchen-size bags)

Dimensions (19"wide/23.75"deep/37.5" high)

Monthly Fee Range for collection: $4.82 to $6.51

64-gallon cart (holds up to 6 standard 13-gallon kitchen-size bags)

Dimensions (24" wide/27" deep/41.5" high)

Monthly Fee Range $8.60 to $11.61

96-gallon cart (holds up to 10 standard 13-gallon kitchen-size bags)

Dimensions (26" wide/34.5" deep/46" high)

Monthly Fee Range $13.72 to $18.52

The monthly fee range will narrow to one price within the range for each cart size following the Board of Public Works (BPW) July 25 meeting. Once the 15,000 households served by City Sanitation make their cart choices, The BPW will have adequate data to determine a sustainable financial model for the modernization effort. Once established, fees will be widely announced to enable households to plan accordingly. Charges will be added to resident's City of Bloomington Utilities monthly bill as a separate line item following implementation.

Carts will be delivered to residents this fall and operations of the modernized automated sanitation program will begin shortly thereafter. Additional information about proper cart usage will be provided as the modernized collection system kick off nears.


Read the Sanitation Modernization Plan

  • [Sanitation Mondernization Plan: Final Report (February 14, 2017)|]

The Sanitation Modernization Advisory Committee was formed and tasked by Mayor Hamilton to study and make recommendations to improve the City's proposal to modernize solid waste and recycling collection services. At the request of the mayor, the members of this committee were asked to participate based on their expertise in critical areas related to this analysis and/or to represent important stakeholders including the residents of Bloomington. As requested by the mayor, this report is intended to provide him with a final recommendation for the future operations of the Sanitation Division.

[Choose Your Carts for Modernized Trash/Recycling Collection Press Release (5-15-2017)|file:28313]

Sanitation Modernization Advisory Committee (SMAC)

Adam Wason, Chair

Director of Public Works, City of Bloomington

Shelby Walker, Vice-Chair

Director of Sanitation, City of Bloomington

Steve Volan

City of Bloomington Common Council

Efrat Feferman

Assistant Director of Finance, City of Bloomington

Jacqui Bauer

Sustainability Coordinator, City of Bloomington

Sandi Clothier

Neighborhood Representative, Near West Side Neighborhood Assoc.

Calvin Davidson

Solid Waste Industry-Ray's Trash Service

Kenny Depasse

Solid Waste Industry- Republic Services

Tom McGlasson

Executive Director, Monroe County Solid Waste Management District

Chad Roeder

City of Bloomington Environmental Commission

Jim Sherman

Utilities Service Board member (and former Common Council member)

Sanitation Modernization Plan

In order to adjust operations to best fit the needs of the City, the SMAC recommended an automated method of operations should be adopted by the Sanitation Division that will provide the City and the community with numerous benefits. The Sanitation Modernization Report identified several key benefits to an automated system:

  • Increased recycling rates

  • Increased employee safety and wellness

  • Increased operational efficiency

  • Implementing a smart city approach to generate and use data to improve service delivery, better manage assets, lower environmental impact, produce educational information and save on costs

Facts About Modernizing Sanitation Services

A. Solid Waste Operations

Weekly: Solid waste pickup will remain a weekly pickup on a designated day for each household. System changes may result in a small percentage of households having their collection day changed.

No more stickers: Residents are no longer required to place stickers on their waste receptacles.

Solid Waste Carts provided: Waste carts will be provided by the City for each household for solid waste. Customers can request a waste container size that best fits their specific needs. Waste cart size options include the following: 96 gallon, 64 gallon or 35 gallon. If a customer does not select a waste cart container size, they will then receive a 64 gallon cart.

Three levels of service: Residents will be able to choose from three different cart sizes (35, 64, or 96 gallons) that best suit their solid waste collection needs. Additional solid waste carts for a household will be made available for an additional fee.

Cart Size Dimensions:

  • 96 gallon: (26" wide/34.5" deep/46" high)
  • 64 gallon: (24" wide/27" deep/41.5" high)
  • 35 gallon: (19"wide/23.75"deep/37.5" high)

B. Recycling Operations

Weekly service: Recycling pickup will become a weekly pickup service on a designated day for each household.

Recycling Carts provided: Recycling carts will be provided by the City for each household. Customers can request a recycling container size that best fits their specific needs. Recycling cart size options include the following: 96 gallon, 64 gallon or 35 gallon. If a customer does not select a recycling container size, they will then receive a 64 gallon cart.

Cart Size Dimensions:

  • 96 gallon: (26" wide/34.5" deep/46" high)
  • 64 gallon: (24" wide/27" deep/41.5" high)
  • 35 gallon: (19"wide/23.75"deep/37.5" high)

No need to separate: Recycling collection will be single stream, no longer requiring residents to separate their recycling materials into fibrous material and commingled recyclable material.

C. Yard Waste

No more stickers: Upon initial implementation, the process for yard waste collection will remain the same as current yard waste collection, without requiring the use of stickers. Receptacles up to 35 gallons, and paper bags can still be used at the same $1.00 per bag or container fee. Billing for yard waste would be added to the customer's bill through the billing software system.

Biweekly service: Yard waste is to be picked up every other week and is to be placed into yard waste bags or 35 gallon containers as is currently required.

Future considerations: Current yard waste operations are to be maintained. An option to automate yard waste pickup that is being considered for future operations would include providing an additional cart for all households who request a yard waste cart. If revenue collections outpace current forecasts, these revenues could be used for purchasing additional yard waste carts.

D. Green Waste / Composting

Upon initial implementation, composting will remain as the responsibility of the homeowner to properly utilize composting techniques. However, the City continues to seek options in providing composting services further into the future.

A proposed plan towards composting entails earmarking additional revenues generated from the new payment system described below to be put towards composting services. The City continues to seek grant opportunities to assist in funding the initial capital required to provide these services.

Staff believes that within 3-5 years' time, the City can develop an effective means of collecting compost for its residents. Organizations such as the Indiana Food Scrap Initiative are currently working with legislatures on relaxing restrictions placed on composting. Legislative changes such as this could make implementing City provided composting services a greater possibility.

E. Large Item and Appliance Pickup

The new system for large item and appliance pickup will require that a resident call in advance for all large item pickups. After receiving the call, large items will be picked up on their next service day by the Sanitation Department. Appliances will be picked up on Fridays. Large items and appliances will be picked up using a separate vehicle. Route optimization software will be utilized to assist in this function of sanitation.

F. Additional Pickups

Under the assumption that the Sanitation Division continues to utilize a 4-day work week of ten hours per day for regular operations, a fifth day of operation will be utilized for collecting additional pickups and miss-outs at the request of the resident. To maintain route efficiency, no household will receive more than one cart pickup on their regular service day for each service provided.

Additional pickups are defined as any of the following:

Miss-outs: Requests for pickup due to forgetting to place carts out by 5:00 a.m. on the pickup day (miss-outs) will count as an additional pickup.

Overflow trash: Requests for pickup due to an unusually large amount of trash that week will count as an additional pickup.

G. Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Chip Technology

In order for the City of Bloomington to maintain its goal of being a city governed by smart decision making that utilizes data intensive models, the use of radio frequency identification chips will best assist in the collection of sanitation materials with maximum efficiency and provide optimal feedback for future decision making processes.

New technology such as RFID impacts the sanitation industry in a big way. It has become the conduit to providing the valuable data that is required to improve operating efficiencies and maximize revenues from solid waste and recycling programs. This valuable data can be provided in several areas of a collection business and the overwhelming benefits include:

A. Recycling incentives: RFID is being used as the platform for incentive-based recycling programs. Without RFID, it is impossible to determine who should be rewarded for their recycling efforts.

B. Household participation data: RFID tracks program participation and set-outs by address. Providing this precise program activity by address can fuel creative recycling initiatives within each community.

C. Tailored education programs: With specific household participation data, Recycling Program Managers can target outreach and education program efforts toward the areas with the lowest participation. Both education and outreach budgets can be maximized to truly increase disposal costs savings and material rebates.

D. Improved asset and inventory management: Proactively tracking lost and stolen containers, while also minimizing capital loss and preventing the service of non-paying accounts.

E. Operations management: Collection managers now have real time access to operational efficiency data to better manage operations and control costs.

F. Route balancing & optimization: Managers can use container distribution and collection data that includes the actual latitude and longitude of the container at point of service, making the optimizing process more efficient and accurate.

H. Initial Capital Expenditures: In order to achieve these operations by 2018, approximately $2.5 million in capital investments will need to be made. Initial phased-in implementation of automation is anticipated to begin in 2017. After full implementation is complete, the sanitation operation will consist of:

  • 6 automated waste vehicles for solid waste and recycling
  • 2 semi-automated back-loading trucks
  • 1 "Knuckleboom" truck used for large item pickup
  • One back-loading waste vehicle for yard waste
  • One smaller waste vehicle for downtown pickup services
  • Roughly 16,000 waste carts of various sizes for solid waste and 16,000 96-gallon carts for recycling that will be distributed throughout the community to residences that receive City sanitation services.

Proposed phase-in of new system:

The planned new system includes purchasing new solid waste and recycling carts for every residence that receives sanitation services from the City and 4 new trucks with side or rear-loading cart tippers in 2017. Purchasing two new trucks per year in 2018, 2019 and 2020 is recommended to complete the initial upgrade of the vehicle fleet.

The City Sanitation Division has been exploring options for trucks for several years. In the coming months, staff will visit communities already using automation and invite suppliers to provide demonstrations of the various equipment options available. The results from these investigations will be shared with the appropriate legislative bodies and the public for comment.

There are two styles of truck from which to choose. An automated side-loader truck requires one employee to operate the truck with a mechanized side-loading arm to pick up the carts. Mechanized rear-loading trucks with tippers, considered to be a "semi-automated" approach, have one driver and two laborers who use the mechanized tippers for solid waste and recycling loading. All trucks and carts will be equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) systems that will provide data collection and the potential for cart weighing capabilities.

Two carts will be provided per household, one for regular solid waste and one for all recycling. Households will have the ability to choose the size of both their solid waste container (either 35, 64 or 96 gallons) and recycling container (either 35, 64 or 96 gallons). If a customer does not make a choice regarding their desired cart sizes, they will receive a 64 gallon cart for both solid waste and recycling.

Image removed.

This new system would eliminate the need for the current sticker system, and employ a volume-based payment approach for sanitation services. Customers will be billed through the existing City of Bloomington Utilities bill.

A major change with this new system will be a shift from dual stream recycling pickup every other week to single stream, weekly pickup. After review, the City administration feels that switching to single stream recycling is more convenient for residents and will result in an increase in recycling participation. Madison, WI. experienced a 25% increase in recycling the first year they implemented single stream recycling in 2006. Maple Grove, MN., Cuyahoga Falls, OH., and Columbus, IN., for example, have each implemented similar, single-stream systems and experienced similar increased annual recycling tonnage following implementation.


Why are you proposing a change to the solid waste and recycling pick-up system we have now?

Our current system is decades old in design and results in a high number of injuries and subsequent worker's compensation costs. A new, more automated system will create higher levels of employee wellness and safety and provide cost savings.

Instead of replacing the City's aging fleet of solid waste trucks with outdated mid-20th century equipment, research shows it makes more sense to replace the fleet with modern waste removal technology that is safer for employees, better for the environment, and more efficient.

The City administration proposes a smart cities data, technology, volume-based approach to collection and pricing for solid waste removal. This modern technology includes a radio frequency identification (RFID) system for smart city capabilities including: benchmarking, route tracking, cart inventory and in the future, weighing trash as it is tipped.

Improved customer convenience and satisfaction is anticipated following implementation of the new system. Customers would no longer need to purchase stickers. Sanitation costs would be included in the monthly City of Bloomington Utilities bill customers already receive. Through the current CBU billing options, residents can elect to set up automatic monthly payments, pay online, by mail or at the Miller Drive CBU service center. A growing number of residents choose the ease the of online option to pay their utility bills.

In summary, several concerns will be addressed by the proposed changes, including employee welfare, gradual replacement of outdated and worn-out equipment with technologically and ergonomically current equipment, increased efficiency leading to cost savings, future data based charges and improved customer service and convenience.

What is the benefit of taking a phased-in, pilot approach compared to moving to a fully automated approach right away?

Several factors went into this decision, including these key points:

  • Smoothing out of initial capital outlay

  • Allows for pilot, experimentation, and setting benchmarks and service delivery standards,

  • Allows time for appropriate training procedures for staff on the new equipment and technologies being deployed

  • Lessens the annual expenditures on workers compensation claims related to the repetitive heavy lifting injuries of the current system

  • Provides flexibility in the timing of implementation. If early data shows the new processes are working well for the community, decisions and investments can be expedited to speed up implementation sooner than the 4-6 year timeframe. Conversely, if the new system doesn't meet expectations, other choices can be made.

Was consideration given to privatizing the system?

Yes, the City administration considered the alternative of turning this essential service over to a private sector sanitation company. Privatization was not considered an ideal option for the following reasons:

  • Potential for lack of future control in pricing,

  • Potential for lack of control in customer service satisfaction levels, and

  • A forced reduction in the local AFSCME workforce.

How will this new system protect sanitation workers?

Our current methods expose our workers to intense amounts of physical labor and harsh weather conditions in order to manually load solid waste and recycling into a trucks. It can be dangerous work that includes repetitive heavy lifting.

The City had over $100,000 in worker's compensation claims last year alone as a direct result of workers injured during the solid waste loading process. With the improvements proposed, rather than having our sanitation crew manually lift up to 13 tons of waste material daily, the new system would utilize mechanical arms to do the dangerous heavy lifting.

Will my pick-up day change?

It might. Route changes may be necessary to maximize their efficiency. Those changes will be as minimal as possible. Customers will be notified of any changes made to their services through a long-term and inclusive public outreach campaign.

How much will this cost residents? Will the new system cost more than solid waste stickers?

There are several choices yet to be made that will impact the eventual cost to each customer, so we don't have a firm number yet. Customers can expect a change to a volume-based pricing model and a small monthly fee for the carts, combined for an early estimated monthly charge of between $6 and $18 per household.

The model the City administration is considering would average the amount all customers currently pay for solid waste and use that number as the baseline fee for the new system. Customers who generate more solid waste and use a larger cart would pay more than customers who recycle a higher percentage of their trash and use a smaller cart. This is similar to our current system where the more solid waste cans you put out at the curb, the more stickers you need to purchase for collection.

Capital expenditures over the four year phase in of the new system will be approximately $4.5 million, including the cost of new trucks, retrofitting existing trucks and cart purchases for each household.

The current cost to the community goes beyond the cost of solid waste stickers, as sanitation operations require support using general fund dollars. Over time the new operation is more cost efficient and will reduce the overall cost of sanitation services.

Charges will not be assessed based on how much you recycle. Recycling will still be collected at no additional charge, with the enhancement of moving to a weekly, one large cart pick up.

How many new trucks is the City buying to make this possible?

As we phase in the new system during 2017, we will purchase two fully automated side-loader trucks, and two semi-automated rear-loader trucks. In order to implement weekly solid waste and recycling pickup, we will retrofit the remaining trucks in our current fleet with mechanized rear loading tippers. This is equipment that would have to have been be replaced regardless of the system we chose to use going forward as many are at the end of their lifespan.

Each automated side-loader truck is estimated to cost between $260,000 and $320,000 depending on the models and features chosen. The exact brand and model of truck will be selected through all required purchasing processes and approvals.

Retrofitting existing trucks with mechanized lifters would cost approximately $11,000 per vehicle.

Do I still have to separate solid waste and recycling?

Yes, solid waste would still need to be separated from recycling, but customers would move to single stream recycling. That means all recycling - cans, paper, plastics - would go in the same cart. Recycling pick up would increase to weekly instead of the current pickup every other week.

What kind of carts (and how many carts) will be used?

Households will receive a total of two carts: one for solid waste and one for recycling. They will have the choice of choosing from three different cart sizes for both solid waste and recycling: 35, 64, and 96 gallons. The size each household chooses will vary depending on their needs. If a customer finds they need a smaller or larger cart than originally requested, they can switch out to a different size (however, a fee will be assessed for changes that are made after the first 60 days of operations). If desired, customers can also request either larger or smaller carts for recycling instead. The carts are on wheels and are easy to move for most people, even when loaded. We will work with any residents who need special assistance moving their waste carts for pickup.

Please note: If a household does not make a choice regarding their solid waste and recycling carts, they will receive a 64 gallon cart for both services.

Cart Size Dimensions

  • 96 gallon: (26" wide/34.5" deep/46" high)
  • 64 gallon: (24" wide/27" deep/41.5" high)
  • 35 gallon: (19"wide/23.75"deep/37.5" high)

How many carts will I get?

Two carts will be provided per household, one for regular solid waste and one for all recycling. Households will have the ability to choose the size of both their solid waste container (either 35, 64 or 96 gallons) and recycling container (either 35, 64 or 96 gallons). If a customer does not make a choice regarding their desired cart sizes, they will receive a 64 gallon cart for both solid waste and recycling.

How much will the new carts cost?

The initial estimates are that the City will purchase approximately 32,000 carts at an approximate cost of $1.4 million. The carts typically have a ten-year warranty period and range in price based on size. The City will set up a system for residents to choose their initial size for the solid waste cart, order the carts and project revenues with the volume-based pricing approach in advance of deployment.

What color will the carts be?

The City of Bloomington is currently exploring several options for color schemes that will look pleasant and appealing. The City logo will be displayed on the carts as well.

What happens if my container gets stolen, misplaced, or damaged?

We are planning to include an RFID (radio frequency identification) tracking system that will identify your carts with your home. Using this system, we will be able to match each cart with the household to which it belongs to avoid confusion. A small inventory of carts and individual components of the carts will be maintained to be able to quickly respond to carts in need of repair. City staff will be responsible for making repairs to damaged carts and will work with residents when carts are stolen or misplaced.

Will the new system take longer to get the solid waste pick up done?

During the initial implementation of such a large-scale change in our solid waste and recycling collection, it could take longer for a while as sanitation crews and customers get used to the new system. We expect service times to return to their previous levels once everyone adapts to the new procedures. Benchmarking and service delivery standards will be developed through data tracking and analysis from the pilot approach and adjustments will be made as necessary.

My street is narrow. Are the new trucks going to be bigger?

The trucks won't necessarily be bigger, depending on the models we choose, but they may need more room to work. As part of the pilot approach we will be identifying locations where a fully-automated system cannot be implemented for some reason, including the width of the street. In that case, a semi-automated service truck would still serve any street or area identified as not able to be served with full automation. We will continue to serve each household we currently serve, no matter what.

Will this change where the solid waste and recycling go?

No. The solid waste is taken to an approved local vendor who handles the final disposal. The destination of regular solid waste is not intended to change with the new operations. The recycling goes to an approved local vendor who transfers it to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for sorting and reuse in the commodities market.

Will any employees lose their job because of this?

No. While the new system would require fewer employees per truck with full automation, the City is committed to working with the local AFSCME Union and other departments to ensure that all current sanitation workers in good standing are provided options for continued employment with the City. Changes in 2017 would not result in any reductions in workforce at the City Sanitation Department. Training, public education, and initial increases in customer service response issues will require all current employees working together to maintain high customer satisfaction levels.

How will large item, yard waste, and instances of above-average weekly waste generation be handled?

Yard waste and large items will no longer require a sticker, but initially no other changes will be made in the collection process of large items and yard waste. Continue to use the same protocols you have used in the past: sticks bundled 48 inches by 24 inches or less, yard waste (leaves, grass clippings) in paper bags (no plastic bags).

We are researching how other communities handle the occasional instance when a customer has more refuse than their carts can accommodate. Eventually extra solid waste can be tracked with RFID technology.