The topic of trash seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. Well, at least it is here in New York City where garbage collection finally resumed this week after Blizzardgate ’10 shut down the city and all of its essential services.

I was out of town during the storm but did witness Garbagegate ’10 firsthand, and I must say it was a gruesome sight. But, hey, the rats had a field day frolicking in the festering mountains of rubbish and the sky-high piles did aid in suicide prevention, so I guess the city’s rodents and a man trying to take his own life benefited from over a week’s worth of uncollected garbage.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, trash is also a hot topic in Toledo, Ohio, where a scheme to replace trash collectors with bin-grabbing trucks is likely to be, well, trashed, after its year-long existence. As an alternative, the city won’t revert back to non-automated trash collection but will get rid of trash collection altogether, letting Lucas County service Toledo’s 95,000 homes.

Mainly through the elimination of 70 jobs, the new system helped the city lower the solid waste budget from $11 million to $8 million, but things haven’t gone exactly as planned. The automated truck system has resulted in unexpected expenses to the tune of $1.3 million and the city’s residents can’t stand the things since they do a sloppier job than humans. Toledo resident Rosie Jordan tells the WSJ: “They don't take all the garbage, they drop it everywhere, and you have to clean it up. I hate it — and people are losing jobs."

Basically, the city’s foray into collecting garbage with robo-claws instead of human hands has been one big, gigantic mess. Explains the WSJ:

Toledo's experience in part underscores the challenge of meeting residents' expectations at a time when cities are facing deep financial strains. But Toledo's own missteps exacerbated those difficulties: While many cities have successfully deployed automated garbage trucks, Toledo failed to adequately prepare residents for service changes, and also encountered more logistical obstacles than anticipated.

Head on over to the Wall Street Journal to read more — and check out the below video about Toledo's struggle with automated curbside trash collection. Is your town serviced by automated garbage trucks? How has the experience been? A giant headache like in Toledo or smooth sailing?

Via [WSJ]

Video screengrab: WSJ

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Toledo to trash automated garbage collection
Due to unexpected costs and unpopularity with residents, Toledo, Ohio, plans to abandon its short-lived attempt at automated curbside trash collection.