Watch: Classical Garbage Pickup

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Garbage trucks in Taiwan have a curious way of announcing their presence: by loudly playing classical music standards like Beethoven’s Für Elise. It’s not unlike the bleating of ice cream trucks in the US every summer, universally recognized and calling people out of their homes and to the curb.

Although this has been going on for some time, it recently came to wider attention as several videos began appearing online.

The musical garbage truck scheme began in the 1980s when Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration was seeking a novel way to eliminate the vermin and odors that plagued the country's designated outdoor public trash disposal areas. This way, residents are notified to bring their rubbish directly to the trucks and the trash never touches the ground (unlike Mister Softee trucks, which seem to appear out of nowhere on hot summer days, the musical garbage trucks run on a set schedule).

On Monday, a blogger for Mother Nature Network looked into the phenomenon and particularly why Für Elise is the preferred trash collection song: “According to popular myth, Hsu Tse-chiu, former head of the Department of Health, went with the Beethoven classic in the early 1980s after hearing his daughter practice the song on her piano."

Update: Along with the Beethoven favorite, another preferred tune is A Maiden's Prayer, a piano miniature by the 19th-century Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska. You can hear it in the videos below.

Weigh in: Could this work here in New York? If so, what music should the Dept. of Sanitation use?