After complaints about trash stacking up near dumpsters in alleyways around Amarillo, the city on Monday kicked off a new campaign to curb illegal dumping.
At a news conference starting near a dumpster, city staff and the mayor announced the launch of a new bulk-trash pickup program.
“The whole purpose of this is to make sure that our alleys, and our community, is cleaner and we can take care of those alleys better,” City Manager Jared Miller said.
Camera crews watched as Mayor Ginger Nelson slapped a how-to sticker for the program onto a dumpster.
The sticker — which reads “Too Big? No Biggie!” and is identical to hundreds being applied to dumpsters around the city — lists in bright green the numbers for the city’s solid waste department. It tells residents to call (806) 378-6813 and arrange for free, curbside trash pickup instead of leaving big items like couches or mattresses in or around dumpsters, warning there is a fine if they continue to dump in the alleyway.
The department will schedule a pick-up time and give directions on how to store items near a street so they can be reached by city boom trucks, which use a big hydraulic claw to grab items and drop them into the truck’s hopper.
The boom trucks are too big to move safely through some alleyways because of overhead power lines, exposed gas meters or other hazards, city officials said.
Household items like couches, chairs, large toys and hot-water heaters are eligible for pickup, along with tree limbs or even fencing material.
Commercial-type construction items, like sheet rock and insulation, must still be taken to a landfill.
The service is free and trash is supposed to be picked up within 24 hours of a call.
The bulk-trash campaign is among the first efforts coordinated by the city’s expanded communication department. After Nelson sticker-slapped the dumpster, reporters gathered in front of a nearby home to see a staged demonstration of the boom truck, which picked up a couple of mattresses, a couch and a recliner.
A city staffer streamed the event live on the city’s Facebook page.
Speaking to reporters and viewers on social media, Nelson said illegal dumping had been a problem in Amarillo. The city was exploring innovative solutions while facing budget constraints, she said, and called on residents to help.
“This boils down to what we’re willing to invest in change,” she said, later adding: “I’m asking citizens to try this, to have an open mind, to have a growth mindset, to recognize that what we’ve been doing is not working, and we need to try something different in order to see if we can improve and make a change.”