Automated trash truck system delivers heavy fines

Quimby Mug Bayou Florida Headshot
Updated Apr 16, 2016

Trash collection companies in south Florida are facing stiff fines for missing garbage pickups following the recent implementation of an automated truck system.

The three refuse companies contracted with Orange County to handle garbage collection for 208,000 single-family homes in Orlando and surrounding communities were hit with a total of $26,000 in fines by the county for missed trash collections, according to

Waste Pro, Advanced Waste Disposal and Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas have been dealing with delays since the county switched to a new collection system, which included the adoption of automated trash trucks, on Jan. 1. The companies can contest the fines by providing evidence, such as through GPS data records and other electronic devices, that offers proof of pickup.

The county reported in January that some missed trash collections were owed to residents not properly positioning new garbage containers for curbside pickup. The large 95-gallon carts have to be placed in a certain way to allow proper access for the truck’s automated hydraulic arm.

Some residents also complained that trash truck operators were having trouble operating the new trucks. One resident recorded a video of an automated trash truck uprooting a lamppost with its hydraulic arm.

Other new changes included new trash pickup times, which changed to one day a week instead of two, and new routes for drivers.

To help alleviate pickup delays, Orange County’s Solid Waste Division put rental trucks to work on various routes to collect trash.

While 90 percent of trash pickups were going well with the new system, it was that 10 percent failure rate that generated plenty of complaints and bad press, according to Jim Becker, Orange County solid waste manager.

To get the word out about the new system, the county mailed notices, held public meetings, used social media and their website and even handed out flyers when distributing 400,000 new trash carts.

In hindsight, however, Becker says, “You really can’t do enough public education.”

Complaints have been dropping as trash companies and residents alike get used to the new system. However, Becker says that it will probably take another month or two to work past all the issues that have led to missed collections.