The Musical Garbage Trucks of Taiwan

taiwan-mapI’ve lived in many cities in the US, but trash collection is pretty much the same. You find out what your collection day is (which day of the week), and on that day of the week, you take your trash out to the curb to be collected sometime during that day by the trash trucks.

When I first came to Taiwan, I lived in an apartment, where we took our trash to the basement of the complex and sorted it into assorted bins and containers. I had to have a student go downstairs with me and help me translate the Chinese signs, so that I knew where glass, plastic, and paper went. You would think that I could tell by what was already in the containers, but not so much. Some of the tenants weren’t very good about sorting their trash. But there were a couple of women who went and sorted and packaged up the trash from the basement and met the trash truck each day. Also, three nights a week, a second truck comes behind the garbage truck. It’s a white recycling truck. It doesn’t have music, but it has a spoken message. (It’s in Chinese, so I don’t know what it says.)

During my second year in Taiwan, I moved to another apartment where each tenant takes out their own trash and deposits it into the trucks. Six nights a week — at approximately 6:50, the trash truck comes right to the front of our apartment complex. Sometimes, it’s a tad later, but by 7:10, it’s been here to collect our trash. The trash trucks announce themselves with music. That’s your signal to head downstairs.

I should warn you about the music. It’s a certain kind of music that lasts for a certain duration and then can loop endlessly as the truck drives through the city, announcing its arrival to those who want to deposit trash. There are two main songs that are used — the one in the video below and —


the other one below. Let’s just say Beethoven would not be happy.



Taking trash out in Taiwan is much different from anywhere else I’ve lived, but this has been an easy adjustment to make. We don’t have to remember when trash day is. We can choose the trash day we want.Β It’s so convenient.Β  It’s easy. It’s especially easy because my husband has taken over taking out the trash. ❀

I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Taiwan trivia.




32 comments on “The Musical Garbage Trucks of Taiwan

    • That’s a great response! I don’t remember how long it took for me to get the hang of it. It’s probably just as well that in my first apartment, I just deposited my trash in the correct bins. But over time, things start to seem normal if you are part of that culture for very long. It is funny when I go back for visits in the US, and it’s back to the scheduled day. πŸ™‚

    • It’s much more pleasant than some of the alternatives. There has to be some way to alert people it’s on the way, so they can gather up their trash and make it out to the truck. The two apartments I’ve lived in have always had the collection times in the evening. But occasionally, when I’m in other parts of the city, I’ve heard the trucks at other times of day. Someone is out driving those for an entire shift.

      It’s a post I’ve been planning for a while, so thought it was time to get it out there. Glad you liked it. πŸ™‚

  1. That is awesome! And yes, it will get stuck in my head, but what a cool way to collect trash! I’m guessing that they don’t want to waste space on dumpsters and such, and this is a smart way to save space and still get the trash collected!

    • I’ve never heard much from the collectors themselves, but the music sure does the trick. When I’m visiting other areas of the city, and I hear the garbage trucks, I find myself asking, “Do I need to take the trash out?” It’s funny how you get conditioned by that music. πŸ˜‰

    • Last semester, one of my exchange students was from Mongolia. He told me that it’s the same there — musical garbage trucks. I haven’t investigated too much, but I know there are a few places in Asia that do it. It’s actually a great system. Very efficient.

    • I’ve seen some of them wearing earplugs. Wait until I do a post about political announcements. I think the garbage truck people have the upper hand. πŸ™‚

  2. I wonder if there’s some point of culture in the fact that Taiwan uses music for garbage trucks, and America for ice cream trucks..?

    This is fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing! =)

    • I think it has more to do with the fact that they have to alert people that they’re coming, and music is a much nicer way to do it than spoken announcements.

      Ice cream it Taiwan is announced by one of those squeeze type horns like the ones on some clown cars. No problem telling them apart. πŸ™‚

      • It really is rather pleasant. I enjoyed watching the people coming and going, stopping a minute to chat. It was relatively unstructured, and yet unhurried and orderly.

        The idea of an ice-dream truck with a squeezy-hon…now that tickles me!

      • At our complex, people will often come downstairs by the clock instead of waiting for the music. Which means, there’s lots of chatting and friendliness. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! That’s so nice to hear! I’m trying to get a few tidbits out there — something like a Tuesday Taiwan Trivia. haha So happy you stopped by.

    • Thanks! If you’ve never encountered anything like it before, you can’t help but be fascinated. And you don’t need to keep trash cans in your yard or garage. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! I’ve been trying to include a variety of different things in my
      post. Not sure I’ve found a niche yet, but people seem to like the
      variety, so I think I’ll stick to that for now. I have more
      Taiwan-based posts to write. πŸ™‚

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