Trash pick up problems?


“Dear PoPville,

Why didn’t DPW pick up trash at all last week? I get Tuesday but what about the other days? Is this what we can expect all winter?”

DPW issued the following statement:

“The Department of Public Works is collecting trash and recycling, where possible; however, the Tuesday, January 6 snowfall, followed by sub-freezing temperatures Wednesday and Thursday have created conditions in some neighborhoods that are too dangerous for collection crews to work. Therefore, DPW is asking residents whose trash and/or recycling collections are not made this week to hold these items until their next collection day.”

63 Comment

  • Our recycle was picked up, but not trash.

  • My trash was picked up on Wednesday without issue. Some neighborhoods esp. where trash is out back were skipped per the notice. Hopefully, we’ll be good the rest of the year with so little of winter left.

    • Yeah, I doubt that. We still have the rest of January, all of February, and sometimes into March, for winter weather. I bet we will still have 2-4 major snow events this season. But that’s just a guess.

  • KSB

    Yeah, we’re still waiting for both to be picked up in Brookland. Our alley has been completely passable and our cans have been waiting, but no-show from DPW. So frustrating.

    • Same here, and it’s not the first time this has happened. We don’t really generate much trash, but I imagine that for group houses or families with several kids this must get really gross.
      Our neighbors (long-time residents) have this mastered – when DPW issued new supercans they kept the old ones as well. They can easily manage without pickup for a few weeks.

      • My neighbors did the same thing thing. Two super cans PLUS over ten bags trash piled next to them. What can be done? I know this may come as a shock, but they have rats in their backyard too.

      • brookland_rez

        Yeah that’s what I did. I have like 3 recycling and 3 for trash.

  • Currently lots of complaints on the Glover Park listserve about trash not being picked up last week.

    • I live there and my apartment complex has a private trash company, and it didn’t seem to me like they picked up last week either….

  • We are on a Tuesday/Friday Cycle, and had nothing at all picked up last week.
    Is DPW suggesting that there may not be pickup THIS week as well? That’s ridiculous. And no, I will not “hold the items” (i.e., my garbage) in my house. Come on.

  • They did pick up trash last week, just not all of it. Our trash/recycling was not picked up last Wednesday. Not a big surprise considering our alley was mostly still covered with snow/ice and is on a hill. I don’t really get why everyone is shocked, surprised, or outraged by this. It happens to some extent just about every time it snows.

    • We pay for city services. Why does is have to be one or the other? Many cities have contracts in place to pick up the slack during weather events. It’s not that complicated. How is it fair to ask people to hold trash for over two weeks??? And 311 told me it wasn’t even because of the snow removal. They said “it was too cold”. Which is the truth?

      • And we get city services; you act like they just told you they’re never picking up your trash again. But it’s not reasonable to expect the trucks and collectors to navigate difficult alleys just so you won’t be slightly inconvenienced by the presence of a little extra garbage in your can. As I and several others have said there’s no way a truck would have gotten through our alley last week. So we’ll hold our trash in our can for an extra week. I really don’t see what the big deal is, and it’s certainly not an unusual situation.

        • The problem is that depending on your block, it might not be just “a little extra garbage in your can.” Many of the houses along my alley have so many people living in them that their trash and recycling cans are overflowing even on a GOOD week, let alone a week when there is no once-a-week recycling or twice-a-week trash pickup. So extra trash means even more of a feast for the rats than usual.

          • None of that makes it any more feasible for trucks to navigate impassable alleyways. I know it’s tough but occasionally some people will have to deal with an inconvenience; that they choose not to do it well isn’t the city’s fault.

          • Perhaps the garbage men could go into the alley and bring the trash out to the waiting truck? No, forget that, we wouldn’t want to inconvenience the garbage men!
            Sorry for the snark, but it’s frustrating. I get no pickups on Tuesday, but the excuse, “We couldn’t pick up trash on Friday because it snowed 3 inches on Tuesday” is pretty absurd.

          • Assuming that hauling full garbage cans up and down snowy/icy alleys would be just an inconvenience (I say it’s pretty damn hard work and not too safe, and the city would see it as a huge workman’s comp lawsuit waiting to happen), that would take way more time than the usual pickups. They still wouldn’t be able to get it all done.
            I get that it’s a little annoying to have an extra week’s worth of garbage lying around but I just can’t bring myself to see it as inexcusable when I can think of plenty of good excuses. So many people on here preach empathy but it seems it’s never there when it comes to city workers; so many people on here ranting about challenges in their workplaces but dammit those garbage men better be out there no matter what until all the garbage is picked up. (No I don’t work for the city, nor do I know anyone who does.)

          • You’re entitled to your opinion, of course, but I don’t think frustration that garbage pickup was ignored Friday because of a small snow Tuesday is unreasonable. As for, “those garbage men better be out there no matter what until all the garbage is picked up” – well, yeah. I’m not suggesting that they have to work 24 hour shifts, but surely there’s a happy medium between that and “Oh look, ice! *shrugs shoulders* On to the next block!”

        • So if it’s SO impossible for “all wheel drive” garbage trucks to navigate the “icy” alley, then how do cities like Chicago, Minneapolis or (heck) any northern city manage? It’s not that difficult. If I can walk and/or drive down my alley, a garbage truck can as well. Enough is enough.
          My trash can is over flowing and there are only two of us. It’s been 11 days and no pickup. With the warmer temps, I guarantee we have rats this week.

          • Are garbage trucks “all wheel drive”? I’ve never heard anyone make that claim, nor would I assume it’s true. As to how other cities manage: I don’t know how well they do. I would assume that they do it better since it happens more often, but I am not going to agree that they never have problems because I’m certain that’s not true.
            My trash can is half full (12 days since last pickup) and there are two of us.

          • Pffft… your trash can isn’t half full; it’s half empty.
            Krampus, I think your household must generate an unusually small amount of trash. My household doesn’t generate much, but even still the main 32-gallon trash can is completely full. (Fortunately there’s a backup trash can; I kept the old ones when the new ones arrived.)

  • I am on the Hill and have twice week and mine didn’t get picked either day last week. They did come this morning. They also haven’t picked up Christmas trees at all.

  • I live in Eckington- our trash day is Wednesday, and we saw trash crews drive through the alley without stopping.

    So now, we’re facing an indefinite blackout and an overflow of trash. I guess we can burrow to keep warm?

  • I have to get me one of these DC goverment jibs that don’t require me to work for a pay check.

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    No pick up last week in Petworth and our alley was completely accessible and passable. DPW has had a long tradition of skipping our block on trash pick up (recycling they’ve been more reliable). And the times they’ve come to collect the trash, our supercan doesn’t get completely emptied… such a half-assed DGAF effort on their behalf!

  • last year, our house got fined $75 since our trash/recycling was overflowing due to several cancelled pick-ups.

    • justinbc

      I wish I could say this surprised me.

    • I got one of these too last year, but successfully appealed it.

      • Yeah not hard to appeal, I got one because someone else’s trash cans ended up behind our property (sent pics of our cans with the address clearly spray painted on them). Also, to be fair, they are generally issued in alleys that have received complaints about rats so they are trying to help.
        Politely worded appeals go a long way.

  • justinbc

    My trash was picked up, but not recycle (Capitol Hill / Lincoln Park area).

  • My trash, recycling, and Christmas tree were not picked up last week in Petworth.

    I can’t believe their excuse is “snow, followed by sub-freezing temperatures.” You know what else that’s called? Typical winter weather. Are they saying that they didn’t prepare for the fact that it might be cold and snowy this winter?

  • Shaw residents are still waiting for our trash and recycling and our Christmas trees to be picked up. We are also on the Tuesday/Friday schedule, and cans are filling up fast.

  • No pick up at all in Logan Circle. The alley is a disaster area filled with trash and Christmas trees. Was the alley icy? Yes. It’s always icy after a snow followed by frigid temperatures in an untreated/unplowed alley. But if the city won’t treat the alleys they have to come up with a plan to pick up the garbage. If this girl from Texas can drive in the alley so can DPW. When I called 311 to register my displeasure AGAIN, the operator wouldn’t even take the complaint, she simply transferred me straight to solid waste’s voicemail.

    • Same here from 14th and U. No pick up at all on Tuesday, nor on Friday. Our alley is littered with trash and Christmas trees (note to my neighbors: those go in the FRONT, not the alley.) Several cans are turned over. We had to back the whole way out of the alley to get out yesterday.

      I don’t want collection workers endangering themselves. At the same time, it’s a week after the fact, and there is still trash everywhere. And soon to be rats everywhere, given the amount of available food in the alley. This is not acceptable.

  • Our trash/recycling wasn’t picked up last Wednesday in Brightwood Park. Let’s hope they come this week!

  • Tsar of Truxton

    I can’t believe people are complaining that trash wasn’t picked up last week. It was frigid cold (and I say that as a northerner). Would you want to be outside picking up trash? I just wish my neighbors would bring in their cans from the alley so it was passable. Wishful thinking at this point, I suppose.

    • If they aren’t going to pick up below x temp, then post a notice so people are aware. It’s cold everywhere in the city, so it makes no sense that some areas are picked up and others not (save for impassable alleys which don’t seem to be the bulk). Even within the same neighborhood, and a small one at that, trash is picked up at one place and ignored at another. The issue is not that they aren’t picking it up, but that a city service we pay taxes to provide is so spotty. Overflowing trash attracts vermin in addition to the unrealistic expecations that people can just hold on to it for a week or more.

      • I’ve received numerous alerts from DPW and others. Sounds like you need to sign up for some lists.

        • If you noticed my first comment, my trash was picked up. Even with alerts, expecting regular trash pickup in a major city isn’t too much to ask. It snowed what 2-3 inches, and they cannot manage it on passable streets and alleys. That reeks and it isn’t coming from the trash.

    • We kept our cans in the alley, because we kept hoping that they would come and get it. I guess that was just wishful thinking…

    • Accountering

      This is ridiculous. What do you think they do in Canada? Just don’t collect trash all winter? There are suits that make working outside in 0* weather perfectly reasonable. DC should be purchasing these for employees if it is a cold weather issue.

      • Please. The second DC starts shelling out for special cold-weather equipment (for the three times per year they need it) you’re going to be the first one complaining about what a waste of your tax dollars it is.

  • I live in Ward 4. No trash pickup in over 10 days. Alley overflowing with Christmas trees (some of which have been here since before New Years!), trash and recycle cans blocking access and bags of garbage laying alongside the alley attracting rats. I’ve called 311 twice to ask about to Christmas trees and no one in three weeks. Ridiculous. I don’t blame Bowser, but I hope she fixes this quickly. People are PISSED and she is (right or wrong) getting much of the blame.

    • It is YOUR responsibility, as a homeowner or renter, to keep your trash out of the alley and in containers. If you don’t have space in your container, either get an extra one or keep it in your house. And in any event, keep your containers out of the alley so it remains clear for people to pass.

      • What makes you think that the OP himself/herself has overflowing containers and is keeping the trash/recycling bins in the alley? That’s the situation in most of my alley too, but I’m not among the offending parties.

      • OP here. Do you really think Id complain about this issue, but not have my own cans etc away from the alley? Come on. I never leave my cans in the alley, but thanks for the lecture on MY responsibility!

  • Seriously people, did you actually walk down the alleys in most of ward 4 last week? Our alleys, and nearly all of the other alleys around us, were solid ice. How are the trash collectors supposed to run down the alleys and collect the cans like they normally do? Have you actually seen them work before? There’s a huge amount of running back and forth, rolling cans down the alleys, etc. I don’t see how this would be remotely feasible (let alone, safe) on a sheet of ice.

    • The same hazardous conditions that made trash pickup unsafe didn’t justify a delayed opening for DCPS. Not making light of the situation, but noting that there is clearly a need for better synching of municipal services with declarations of winter hazards.

    • +1…I almost busted my ass picking up recycling from the alleyway after my can blew over; so I see why they didn’t nab it yet. Still frustrating to have to wait a full week though. If they don’t hit us this week, we’ll be making runs to Ft Totten this weekend.

  • I’ve lived in Logan for 10 years and it has ALWAYS been this way…very irritating (not like we don’t already have a rat problem)…trash isn’t picked up in my neighborhood for days if there is the slightest bit of snow…and the roads are clear and everyone else is working…always wondered what exactly the employees are doing for what has turned into weeks at a time…it may just be my area but it is an annual issue every winter.

  • Someone already mentioned this, but fort totten is available for trash dropoff as well. The weekday times aren’t the most convenient (1-5pm) but Saturday dropoff is from 8am to 3pm. It may be a better option than letting rats get into your garbage.

  • TRASH: Here is the main thing: Communication. DPW management could put out this message “Fine DC residents, we will not be picking up trash today, Tuesday, because it is unsafe for the crews.” or “We will pick up in areas which are safe, icy areas will take longer”. In my block of Logan, trash was not picked up Tuesday, but it was picked up early Friday. Street front, no alley. I mention early Friday, because it is the residents responsibility to put out the trash can before collection. My two closest neighbors rarely get their trash can(s) out early enough on any Friday. Their trash is currently at capacity.

    CHRISTMAS TREES. Here is what I have learned. Reset your expectations on christmas tree pick up. From what I understand the policy is to pick up trees when there is space in the trash truck. The main issue I think is the trash crews don’t want to pick up the trees; maybe it makes their day much longer, or the truck fills up faster and they have to go unload more times.

    Here is what I think would fix the problem: Have a week tree collection period that does not involve regular trash. Additionally, allow a benefit $ if a resident takes their tree to Ft Totten on their own. Here is another idea: any DC tree seller will be required to take back in trees for mulching. “Lets make DC Green” Christmas trees are not really trash.

    First year I lived here: tree got picked up right after Christmas, Second year: Waited for tree to get picked up, finally called DPW about a week before Easter (yes Easter), then it was picked up, Last Year, Saw neighbors 1 large and 1 small tree get passed over week after week, called 311 (March), they came and picked up the small tree, called 311 again, they came and picked up the large tree.

    Current situation: We’ve got 2 trees in the tree box.

    FWIW: I appreciate the DPW trash crews. They have a hard, smelly job. I’d thank them if I could: hand warmers, hot coffee, they zoom by.

    Source: Living in Logan Circle, 10 yrs

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