There are options for residents whose trash routinely exceeds the basic service level of 120 gallons a week. Some are under the city program. Others involve private enterprise.
Under the city system, those who want additional capacity on a permanent basis must lease larger or additional containers. Under a proposal before the City Council, the fee would be about $5.35 a month to replace a 60-gallon container with a 90-gallon one, $8.60 a month for a third 60-gallon container and $12.60 a month for a third 90-gallon can.
The city does not have a billing system in place, but expects to within six months to a year. At that time, residents will be billed for charges accumulated from the date they first received supplemental containers.
Households needing additional capacity on a one-time or occasional basis can buy special city tags for $5 each and affix them to their own cans, or buy 30-gallon plastic bags from the city, also for $5 apiece. City trucks will pick up both types of containers.
Residents must go to their local sanitation district headquarters to obtain the bags and tags. Valley residents living east of the San Diego Freeway must go to the East Valley District Headquarters, 9701 San Fernando Road, Sun Valley, 989-8522. Those living west of the freeway can obtain them from the West Valley District Headquarters, 8840 Vanalden Ave., Northridge, 989-8627.
Sanitation officials said they are looking at alternatives to the distribution of the bags and tags that would be more convenient to residents.
In the first months of the program, the sanitation bureau will routinely pick up bagged or tagged trash. But once the program is well-established, residents will have to call the local sanitation yard to arrange a special pickup.
Another option recommended by sanitation officials is for residents to compact their trash. A letter sent to households which are about to receive automated collection suggests that they "compact boxes and compress trash so all your trash can fit in these two containers."
Those who want to cram even more into their barrels could purchase a trash compactor, which can reduce household trash to one-third or one-fourth of the original volume by exerting between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds of pressure.
That thought has crossed the mind of many appliance shoppers recently. "They've been looking a lot lately," said Tim Bennett, an appliance salesman at the Sears Roebuck and Co. store in Northridge. "You can see more people studying the situation, getting ready to buy."
Prices for the appliance generally range from $250 to $600. The kitchen is not the only place where a trash compactor can be installed. Many dealers now carry portable models that homeowners can put in the garage or a service porch.
From the city's perspective, trash compactors are a good idea because they can save landfill space. But the effect so far is negligible because so few people use them, said Dean Wise, district manager of Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Sylmar.
Although the two 60-gallon containers will be sufficient for most households, people who live in semi-rural areas that generate large amounts of yard waste, or horse owners who have other types of waste they want to dispose of may turn to private haulers for supplemental garbage service.
"This is an opportunity for us," said Charles Caspary, manager of Atlas Transport in Chatsworth. "I do see the possibilities."
Caspary said his company is planning a direct-mail campaign to households with rural-agricultural zoning designations, especially those with lots of a half-acre or larger. He also expects to pick up periodic business from people who remodel their houses and will not be able to place scrap building materials on the curb for city pickup, and those who periodically do a lot of yard work.
Other private haulers are doing some checking into possible increased demand for their services, but they remain skeptical.
"Well, you know, you have to check all the possibilities," said Neil Driscoll, office manager of Roll-Off Services, Inc. in Woodland Hills. "We're not saying it's viable, but we're looking at it."