The City of St. Louis like most Cities across the countr  is dealing with budget constraints because of the global recession, and rising costs of pensions and health care. The Department of Streets, like all other departments, is looking for ways to save money while still effectively providing needed services to our residents.  In that spirit, the Department of Streets is experimenting with once-a-week trash pickup, which is the rule for municipalities in the region and in the country.  For the last two months, our Refuse Division has been picking up trash once a week on one alley route in each ward.

During our experiment, we  learned many important lessons  and we are making improvements as we get comments and suggestions through the Citizens Service Bureau. Despite the challenges we’ve faced   frozen trash because of the bitterly cold weather and added trash volume after Christmas, among others  we think this program can work. We hope that it will encourage citizens to drop off their recyclables at our 27 sites, to become more aware of what they’re throwing away, to compact their trash, and if needed to walk a couple more steps to a dumpster that is not full.  This will work better if we replace some of our 300 gallon  trash receptacles with 600 gallon receptacles.  We acknowledge that we’ll have to plan occasionally for additional trash pickup in some traditionally heavy times like Christmas.  But, overall, this plan should work, will reduce the amount of waste we put in landfills, and could save the City a projected $1 million per year.

There is another benefit.  An increasing number of our fleet of trash service vehicles are outdated and with very poor fuel efficiency.  This change would allow us to retire the most inefficient vehicles, improving our fuel efficiency, and thus making this an even more initiative.

The Refuse Division is working to keep the alleys clean.  It is important for residents to make sure their trash is in the proper receptacle.   As we have been adjusting cans and routes in our pilot program, my employees have been working hard to take care of any overfill trash.   However, if this program becomes permanent, residents will be responsible for making sure their trash is in the proper receptacle. Once-a-week trash pickup will not mean unsanitary conditions  and my employees are committed to keep that promise.

There is a way to reduce our costs while minimizing layoffs.  The recent furlough agreement between the City of St. Louis and the Unions will help to prevent any of our employees,  the people who pick up the trash and drive the trash trucks, from being let go during the pilot program.

Currently, the staff displaced with the pilot program balances out the required furlough days off.  If the program continues to be successful, as we expect it to be, a few refuse employees can be reassigned to vacant positions elsewhere in the Department of Streets.

Here are some helpful hints :

* Please take your household trash bags to the alley dumpster as the bags are filled so we can gather accurate data about trash collection.

* Many of the items that residents throw away can be easily recycled. By separating cardboard, cans, paper, or glass items and taking them
to one of 27 recycling centers, trash volume will be drastically reduced. Visit the recycling center closest to your home.

* Take your trash to the next available trash receptacle when the receptacle nearest their home is full.  Residents are welcome to use any trash receptacle on their block.

* Try to  compact yourr trash. Flatten boxes, which otherwise take up a lot of room in the dumpster.

* When you have a problem with trash, please call Citizens  Service Bureau.  They can be reached at 622-4800 Monday through Friday
between 8amand 5pm.  Or, you can submit your comment, problem, or suggestion electronically by visiting

Thanks for your understanding and your patience.  Once-a-week pickups will save the City money in a challenging time for city budget and be more environmentally responsible.  We plan to continue this trial run through the spring.  Your comments and suggestions are making it better.


Todd Waelterman

Director of Streets