Dear PoPville – Recycling Bin Wars

Photo by PoPville flickr user ewilfong

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a Columbia Heights row house with an alleyway that runs behind the house down the middle of the block. All summer and fall I kept finding my recycling bin at other neighbors’ houses (at least 4 or 5 different houses). My roommates and I have tried using markers and etchings to make sure people know the bin is not theirs, yet the problem kept reoccurring. Finally last week one bin was stolen entirely and nowhere to be found.

Is there a shortage of garbage/recycling bins in this city that I’m not aware of? Does anyone want to donate a new recycling bin to me?”

Unfortunately recycling bin wars have been going since at least aught nine. And before that garbage can wars raged in our alleys. Back in April trash can and recycling bins were no longer freee and replacement costs were set at $45 and $62.50 for a Supercan.

There was speculation that this could lead to an increase in thefts but I hadn’t heard about an increase in thefts. Anyone else experiencing problems?

38 Comment

  • At the very least, spray paint huge numbers on the side of the cans.

  • Is there a pattern. I noticed that with the idiotic sanitary workers come through, they just put them wherever they feel like it. It really is annoying.

    • +1

      I’ve watched them on numerous occasions roll the bin down the alley to dump then throw it on the ground at the end of the alley. I called it in to 311 after mine was stolen probably as it laid 5 houses down.

      I was told to chain them but now they sporadically pick up the trash and only take a couple bags if any.

      Frustrating that it is very clear cut what needs to occur with our tax money.

      1. Pick up the trash every scheduled day
      2. Return the bins to original spot

      • They told you to chain them?!?

        The rules say you’re not supposed to have your trash/recycling cans in the alley except (if I remember) between 6 p.m. the night before collection and 8 p.m. the day of collection.

        So you’re supposed to have them on your property except for those hours, and then chain them to a fence or whatever during those hours??

        • Yes, the lady at DPW told me to chain them. I figure she was misinformed but beats always grabbing my bins from down the alley and buying new ones.

          Really the solution is to make the workers return the bins but that never happens even after numerous phone calls. Video taping might work though

    • Hey now. In my alley, it is the kids hanging out who grab them for seats if they’re left in the alley. I’ve had to track both cans down multiple times, and its nearly always the kids that moved them, not the neighbors or the sanitation workers.

    • Let me be clear on two things.

      1. I am sure it is the sanitatin folks because I deal with this every Tuesday evening/Wednesday which is right after they come on Tuesday morning. Without fail, they are randomly placed, never stolen, just not put back where they were found.

      2. I am not calling anyone who works in sanitation an idiot. I am saying the people who come get ours and leave them wherever they please are idiots. And when they do leave them at our house they always seem to put them in front of the damn door making it difficult to get out.

      If they put just a little thought into what they are doing all of our lives would be a bit easier.

  • When I lived on Euclid St in the 1200 block I routinely had mine swiped. Just another reason I am glad to be where I am now (not an issue).

    Kam is right – as the trucks move down the ally, they don’t always stop, so your can ends up half a block down. I think that people just grab what is in front without thinking about it too often.

    Or – the cynic in me says – they are stealing your bins!

  • That’s funny; we have seem to have an excess of bins the end of my block. Or, at least, no one seems to want to take responsibility for them (thanks, group house tenants) and we’re constantly dragging them back into some semblance of order. Of course, the fact that there are 6 or 8 unclaimed bins of each type–garbage and recycling–doesn’t stop my neighbors from using my clearly-marked bins and putting stuff into them that ensures that DPW won’t ever empty them.

    • Where do you live? My bin got stolen and I don’t want to shell out $45 bucks for a new one. I’ll gladly take one of those off of your hands.

  • Those standard trash cans are horrible, too small, square, and the wheels get damaged way too easily. Go to Home Depot and buy one…

    • the trash collectors aren’t obligated to remove from cans that aren’t provided by DC… i called after my bin was stolen because i didn’t want to pay for a new one and asked if i could buy any old can and that’s the response i received. i’m seriously considering a long chain with a lock attached to this new can that doesn’t go farther than 10 feet from my fence.

  • Ours disappears periodically but always comes back. Sometimes it takes a week or two. No idea why. I suspect it’s trash collectors leaving it down the alley and then it gets taken into someone’s garage. Our address is spray painted all over the can in bright, large letters, which makes a less tempting target for thieves and easy for us to identify when it does work its way back into the open.

    • same thing at my house in NE. it disappears occasionally (usually for a week, once for a month). when that happens, my husband stalks the alleys on trash days trying to find it. we also have the house numbers spray painted on the trash can. i’m tempted to put hot pink flowers on there or something, too..

      our alley is so skinny the the trash truck can’t even make it down there, so they usually just drag all the trashcans to the trash truck and then leave them down there.

  • on 11th street they get mingled but that is b/c of the garbage collectors toss them where they please. everyone has theirs marked. either people don’t pay attention to the markings or people just like to test out others trash cans….but never have i seen one missing. in fact i am quite sure we have a stray or a lazy resident who never takes their can up from the curb.

  • You can have mine. I’m currently in a fight with the District over my recycling and have completely given up. They REFUSE to collect my recycling bin even though it only contains beer bottles and cans.

    It’s been sitting in my alley since August. I call every week and it still hasn’t been collected. You’re more than welcome to come grab it.

    • Are you sure you have recycling pickup in the alley? My trash is collected in the alley but recycling pickup is on the street. Insane, yes. But may explain your problem.

  • now that I know that trashcans cost money, I think I’ll get my landlord call the city to replace ours which disappeared. my neighbor had said they’d replace it for free, I just hadn’t gotten around to calling the city.

  • Ours are regularly dumped in a neighbors driveway. Once it even disappeared for 2 weeks but mysteriously found its way back home.

    -Bloomingdale Resident

  • I live on 13th st and the trash pickup is on 13th itself so I keep my cans in the front as do most people. Last summer my recycling bin was stolen by a homeless man at least twice and it also walked off a few other times but I don’t know if it was the same guy. I had heard about this going on in the area so I painted my house number in orange just in case. One day when i got home form work I noticed it was gone so i went out to look for it and actually found the homeless guy had it with all of his stuff in it. I took it back and asked him not to do it again. A few days later it was gone again but this time the cops came to my door with the can and told me the homeless guy had it. There were a few other times when i found the bin over on U st as well. I decided to end the problem buy buying a chain and locking the two bins to the fence and it never happened again.

  • For what it’s worth, there is currently a shortage of superbins with DPW. I ordered one in October, and have still not received it. When I ordered it, the people at DPW told me that they are currently out, and more would be coming in mid November, so I should hopefully receive mine soon. In the meantime, I’ve just been leaving trash bags outside next to the recycling bin on collection day.

    On an aside, does anybody know when leave collectors come? I have a couple bags of leafs and left them out on trash day last week, but they weren’t collected. Is there a seperate schedule for leaf collection.

  • We spray-painted our address in giant numbers in orange and haven’t had a problem. Or maybe it’s because we keep them locked behind our fence… probably the latter…

  • YEH I KNOW! I hate it when people put dog poop in my trash bin – it explodes!

    oh…sorry, wrong post.

    • Somebody left a bag of dog poop in my trash can on Friday night when I forgot to bring it back inside the fence and left it out overnight.

      At least it was in a bag… but I was still annoyed. And there was so MUCH poop, like it was from someone walking three dogs!

  • Do you put your trash bin in the alley and retrieve after trash day is done or do you leave it out there?

  • I put my address on mine pluse wrote on it with a Sharpie, “Stealing recycle bins brings bad karma. Ask Dan Snyder.”

  • Well, if you wait until pick up day, then check to see who puts out more than one recycling bin, you know who took it. In my case, I took one of my neighbors bins – I have 2 now – because they kept leaving it right behind my house for days after pick up.

  • Ours are always moved next door so we just let them stay there and walk the extra 20 feet to throw our garbage and recycling away. I think it is the fault of the sanitary workers, mostly.

  • I marked mine with huge numbers an haven’t had a problem.

    I honesty think that the hot pink paint might have something to do with it. Nobody else in my alley wants to be associated with the pink-number cans.

  • When I painted the house numbers on my new can, I got carried away and covered the whole can in large, colorful, flowers. Top to bottom. I can’t paint for shit, so they’re really garish and primitive.

    You like my trash can, punks? Go on. I dare you.

  • Even with spray painted numbers, we have lost a garbage can, a recycle bin and a garbage can lid. Come on, Logan.

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