COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Muscogee County is growing and with growth comes change. The city will be rolling out new 96-gallon trash cans and an automated trash pick-up truck. The change will come in 2022 as the city continues to deal with labor shortages from the COVID-19 pandemic like much of the country.

Director of Public Works Drale Short said the city wants to get away from the inmate labor they currently use to fill “backman” positions to manually dump garbage.

“Well the city of Columbus is growing as you know and when there’s growth there’s time to make changes and how we do processes,” said Short. “So one of the things we identified was that because of all the workforce shortages that were experiencing throughout the country, if you will, we had to figure out a different way to be able to do collection and do it safely.”

This has lead the city to begin moving towards this new automated system in the new year.

“So we’re going towards automation,” said Short. “And automation just simply means that instead of there being two people on the back of the truck that will dump your trash, there will now be an electronic arm that will extend from the garbage truck, pick up the garbage can and dump it in the top of the garbage truck, instead of it going in the back and dispose of your trash.”

What else do residents need to know about the new garbage cans? Short explained once they get delivered to your house they permanently belong to your address.

“Basically we’ll have a private company that will be delivering the cans. Each can will have an RFID tag instilled in the can, so it will be specifically assigned to that address,” said Short. “So in the future if you decided to move, you wouldn’t need to worry about taking the can. The can goes with the address, but we’ll have those delivered. You’ll get two cans you’ll get a yard waste can and a household waste can.”

Short also shared this will make garbage pick-up in Columbus more efficient since it will be automated they won’t have to worry about filling positions when life happens and a “backman” has to call out leaving a spot needing to be filled. She said it will be much easier to pick-up that route with automated services.

The cans will be delivered sometime in February 2022 and Short said they are working with a vendor that will pick-up the old cans.

She urges residents to not be alarmed if they receive their new cans, but don’t see new trucks just yet. Short said the old trucks will have an attachment that will allow the new cans to be used in the meantime.

Short is also urging residents to really focus on recycling as it will slow how quickly both your garbage can and our landfills fill up.