City Considers New Technology That Would Tell Workers When Public Trash Cans Are Full

Apr 19, 2017

City-owned trash cans in Pittsburgh could soon tell public works when they need to be emptied.

The Peduto administration is asking city council to approve a $275,000 three-and-a-half year contract to add the technology to trash cans in parks and on sidewalks. The data would be sent to iPads issued to public works managers.

“The technology is going to tells us exactly what cans need to be emptied and instead of the truck running around eight hours a day, they’ll be able to do maybe just do two hours emptying litter receptacles,” Pittsburgh Public Works Director Jim Gable said.

The city tested the technology from Victor Stanley Inc. in more than 100 trashcans in the fifth division, which includes west end communities from Fairywood to Beechview, as well as Mt Washington.

Gable said the pilot program cut showed the technology could save man hours. In fact, he predicts it would reduce the 100,000 hours spent each year checking and emptying the roughly 1,200 cans citywide, by 30 to 50 percent.

“That equates at the top line to 25 additional bodies doing something else around the city more important that just driving around looking at litter receptacles,” Gable said.

Gable said the city does not plan to reduce public works staff due to the contract. Instead, he said, it would reallocate the time to other public works projects that Gable says have gone undone in some instances for years.

The technology can also predict when a can will be full. 

“We can see that the cans in heavy traffic areas like Grandview Avenue aren’t full today, but they might be over the weekend,” Gable said. “And we can advance and get to those cans before the do get full.”

Council is expected to debate the proposed contract next week. The city already has a contract with Victor Stanley Inc. to provide standardized public trashcans to the city.