This post was inspired by what I saw right outside my bedroom window one morning when I was in San Jose. It was the garbage truck, pulling up in front of my parents' house to take away the trash. Instead of three men - one driver, two scurrying to the curb to hoist bags and cans and throw the contents into their truck - there was but one, a driver with joystick control of a big arm that swooped down, clamped onto city-regulation containers (one for trash, one for recyclables), and dumped them down into the truck. Out of the three or four houses within eyeshot of my window, I only saw the driver have to get out of the truck once, when his metal arm knocked one bin sideways and he had to reposition it so it could be grabbed again.
This seems a good way to save money, albeit with high upfront capital investment for special trucks, especially since I would imagine worker compensation claims plummet when you don't ask your guys to lift heavy objects. Also, there is incentive to downsize your trash: you only get one trash bin a week, and you pay more if you ask for the larger size bin rather than the regulation size. Plus, there's something nice and tidy about garbage day when as far as you can see are two bins in front of each house, each the same size and color and each facing the same way. (Don't get my wife started on the motley assortment of containers used for garbage by people on our block.) Hey Philly, send one of your Sanitation guys to San Jose to figure out how to make this happen here. Better yet, I'll read this post for free and get cracking on it stat.