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Large alley trash cans to make way for personal bins in Billings

Process begins March 7
Billings new trash bins
Posted at 4:24 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 18:24:57-05

BILLINGS — It's trash day. Time to wheel your individual bin down to the curb in the morning and bring it back up - empty and ready for the week - when you get home from work.

If this describes your weekly collection routine, then don't worry - nothing is going to change. But what if you’re one of thousands of Billings residents who take their trash out back?

“We’re getting ready to change all of your 300-gallon bins in your alley to these 90-95 gallon carts," said Kyle Foreman, solid waste superintendent for the city of Billings.

The city will deliver 16,000 new bins to individual homes starting on March 7. The main reason for the change? Some people just don’t know how to share.

"We have a lot of people who are abusing these cans," Foreman said."If you have a large family or a home-based business, you're using the volume that's meant for other homeowners."

Billings alley trash cans
Billings is removing all 300-gallon trash bins from alleyways to make way for smaller, personal bins.

The Public Works Facebook page has gotten plenty of comments about the program in the last week, many about that specific issue. But Foreman says businesses will be able to apply to keep the larger bins. And if one 95-gallon bin isn't enough for your home, you can apply for another for $3.94 per month.

A lot of the other commenters are worried that they'll have to take their new smaller bins out front to the curb. But that's not the case.

"The majority of these 16,000 will not be going curbside - they can stay in the alley," Foreman said. "Or if you want to bring it closer to your house, you have that option as well."

For Joe Pearson, that option will be a huge help.

"Just because I’m disabled, and it’s just easier for me if I don’t have to walk down the alley," he said. "And now hopefully somebody else isn’t using my bin all the time."

Billings trash collection truck
A City of Billings trash collection truck picks up a curbside bin.

It's expected to take about three weeks to get them all out. This initiative costs about $1 million, which might seem steep for a seemingly minor change, but it’s potentially paving the road for an entirely new system.

"Solid Waste is exploring billing customers based on the volume they throw away," Foreman said. "It’s called Pay As You Throw. It's very successful in municipalities across the country. So a family of eight who generates mores trash would pay more than an older couple on a fixed income."

Foreman says that’s still a couple of years away at least. For now, feel free to use as much of your personal 95 gallons as you’d like.