If you live in Houston, be prepared for a possible change in your garbage pickup schedule.
On July 2, the city's trash trucks will begin navigating new routes, changing the regular garbage and yard-waste collection days for about one in six residences.
The city is planning an information campaign ahead of this new collection schedule, which affects about 67,000 homes. The campaign will include at least three direct-mail pieces, radio advertisements and neighborhood signs.
"We hope that most of our customers will get the message, but we know that a number of them won't," said Thomas "Buck" Buchanan, the city's longtime solid waste director.
Buchanan is planning the change at the same time the city takes over 23 routes serving about 85,000 customers, mostly in northeast Houston, when a contract with private hauler Republic Waste Services ends this summer.
During this transition, and armed with new software, Buchanan decided to rethink what would be more than 100 trash routes citywide to boost his department's efficiency and save money.
Buchanan hopes to reduce the number of routes to fewer than 90, saving money on drivers' pay and truck expenses.
Buchanan said his team realized that it would be most efficient to change some collection days, when factoring in the service centers where trucks are stored and maintained.
The changes won't affect heavy-trash collection and curbside recycling, or residents in apartments.
Two neighborhood activists said the service-day change shouldn't be tumultuous.
"They just need to make sure people know," said Richard Leal, vice president of the Rose Garden Civic Club, whose neighborhood's pickup days will stay the same. "I don't think the change of the date is going to be all that significant."
Vicki Fiedler, president of the Park Civic Association, where residents will see a change, agreed.
"I can't imagine that it's going to be a big deal after a short period of time," she said.
In addition to the letters and other efforts to get the word out, Buchanan also is budgeting some overtime for his drivers to pick up trash from residents who either don't get the word or forget about the plan.