If You Haven’t Had Your Trash Picked Up in a While You’re Not Alone

Photo by PoPville flickr user Zhou Jia

From DPW:

“Regretfully, we continue to have problems with regard to the icy condition of many of the alleys and how this affects residential trash/recycling collection. We truly regret the inconvenience of having to hold onto your trash and/or recyclables until the next collection day when weather conditions create unsafe circumstances for our collection crews.

We ask our drivers to use their best judgment when driving their routes, keeping uppermost the safety of the crew and the public. All our drivers must possess a Commercial Driver’s License to be employed by DPW in this capacity; and they can lose their license, and livelihood, if they are determined to be at fault in an accident. The drivers also weigh the risk to employees who collect the cans when determining if an alley or street is too icy to navigate. Injury to the crew or the public as well as property damage, weigh heavily on a driver’s conscience even if an accident is not his or her fault.

Again, we do recognize we are inconveniencing the residents when trash and recycling aren’t collected timely and hope that we have no more winter weather to impede our work.”

33 Comment

  • That’s very reasonable and understandable. Makes me think if there is a way to ask my neighbors on our trash collection day we could all move our trashcans to a reasonably accessible area. An Anti-Valentine’s Day party and a Lunar New Year Party and my recycle bin is filled to capacity.

  • Much to our surprise, a small orange truck ventured down our narrow alley today and hauled off the trash. First time we’ve seen them since at least Feb 13.

  • Many cities with much worse winters than DC manage to pickup trash as well as plow snow and “navigate” alleys. Why does it have to be an either/or? We haven’t had trash pick up in two weeks. Trash is overflowing. Rats and other animals are all over the place. How is this acceptable? I’m sorry DC, I understand winter conditions are less than ideal, but you still should be able to deliver on basic city services.

    • I appreciate that many alleys can be a hazard, but it sure would be nice if they had some alternative plan other than “hoping” that no more winter weather will come.

      • This. There’s no excuse for DPW, year after year, to just shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, the weather’s bad!” We gat bad weather every year. There should be a plan for picking up trash whtn there is snow and ice. This is not hard to realize.

        • That would cost a lot more money (higher insurance premiums, cold weather gear, comp time, etc). It’s not hard to realize, but rather difficult to put into practice, especially if you don’t already have extra funds allotted to make this happen.

          • ” especially if you don’t already have extra funds allotted ”
            This attitude is precisely the problem – the “oh, what can we do about it now?” air of befuddled surprise. Bad weather happens every single year. Being shocked when is does shows that DPW just doesn’t care. That is unacceptable. It sounds silly, but trash pickup has become a fundamental responsibility of municipal government, along with public safety and education. It’s also one of the quality of life issues that affects every single resident, even those who have private trash pickup.

          • dcd: I agree with you, but I don’t think whining about it on popville is going to affect much positive change.

          • I’m not looking to “[e]ffect positive change” over public services in DC. I try to limit myself to one Sisyphean task at a time, and I’m currently trying to move a ton of sand, blindfolded, using tweezers held in my mouth. I’m just bitching about it – like everyone else on the thread. As a solution, I’m going to move somewhere where the civil servants aren’t complete incompetents.

  • DC1

    Best judgement? Our alley is completely clear of ice/snow, yet the trash remains uncollected.

    • Same here. Our alley was relatively clear in Ward 4. In fact, our recycling got picked up, but not the trash. How is that “good judgment” by the garbage collectors? Recycling truck can make it, but not a garbage truck?

  • The thing that makes this so questionable is that private trash collection companies somehow manage to pick up trash under the same conditions – and sometimes in the same alleys (ours is shared by a number of condo buildings, who use private companies, and private houses, which use city services).

    • +1. Our neighbors have started throwing trash in our privately-collected bins but I really can’t blame them. Our company is on point year-round and our bins never get close to capacity.

  • Here’s an idea – plow the alleys!

    • There is probably a logistical issue with this. If you are just pushing snow forward in an alley you will end up pushing it into the street when you get to the end of that alley. On a street you can push it to the sides, sidewalks or parking lanes.

  • I Dont Get It

    Good news: the recycling bins on my block were finally picked up this morning.
    Bad news: most were left out in the street.

  • I have streetside collection, not alleyside, and my trash hasn’t been picked up in two weeks.

    • Same here. Yesterday was the first pickup on my main Capitol Hill street (not an alley) in two weeks. The day after the snow I could understand, but after plowing and melting, how would you explain no trash pick up last Friday when the streets were perfectly clear? And when the pickup was finally made yesterday my cans were left halfway down the street, upended in a pile of dirty snow on the sidewalk. The refusal to completely empty trash cans, not returning them to the curb where they were left, refusing to replace the lid after they scoop out the bags (and only the bags), even in good weather, all point to the real problem with the trash service, which is the guys cut every single corner in order to shorten their route time (but still get paid for the full route).

      • west_egg

        “refusing to replace the lid after they scoop out the bags (and only the bags)”
        Thank you. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Nothing worse than coming home on a hot summer day to a can that was left wide open while an afternoon thunderstorm came through.

  • I didn’t get picked up at all last week but they showed up yesterday AM as I was on my way to work. I gave them a little Yeah!

  • My brother lives in downtown Boston and has gotten 61 inches of snow this month and they have missed 1 trash pickup and had another delayed by a day so I have a hard time believing DPW can’t manage. My neighbor was able to get her 2 door mini cooper out of our alley the day after, so it boggles the mind that DPW cant get a 4 ton truck with 2 feet of ground clearance in.

    Generally, DPW has gone down hill the past 12-18 months. Even in perfect weather in the middle of July, they somehow manage to miss 1 or two collections a month ( I’m in a twice a week area). They missed 3 full weeks in a row of pickups between late December and mid January.

    The result? Trash overflowing cans, blowing all around the alley and side streets. Armies of rats etc. I haven’t seen trash pickup this bad since Barry was mayor and the city was literally bankrupt.

  • jim_ed

    This winter has made me especially appreciative of Mayor Gray’s shameless election gift of an extra big ass recycling can. Mine is stuffed over the brim currently. Had we still been using the previous teensy cans, my backyard would be overflowing with wet bags of recycling goods. Do you think Mayor Gray would come back if we asked nicely?

  • My trash hasn’t been picked up since 2/13. Miraculously the recycling was picked up yesterday. Our alley is clear of ice. I put a 311 request in so we’ll see if that helps.

  • My guess is they have just enough trucks and crew to collect all the trash under ideal conditions. When conditions are less than ideal, it just takes longer, and the equipment and staff aren’t sufficient. So even if your alley is clear of snow and ice (how did THAT happen??), the great majority of the alleys on your collectors’ route are like my alley, and are still a mess.
    Our guys (who are super wonderful and friendly) came through this morning, but they were moving literally at half-speed. Lots of the cans had water in them, and the collectors had to lie each one on its side to drain the water before they could dump the contents. Or else wait for the much slower lift on the truck to do its thing.

    • Don’t they divert some personnel from trash pick up to salting / plowing in a snow emergency?

    • If they actually put the lids back on after they collect (as west_egg & anon complained about above), then they wouldn’t have to go around dumping the water out the next week.

      • If there’s any trash in the cans to empty, doesn’t that demonstrate that someone else, like the resident, may have, at some point since the last collection, removed the lid, to perhaps place trash within??
        You are breaking my logical heart here.

      • I agree that it’s annoying when the trash collectors don’t close the lids after collection. Dumping the water out isn’t a big deal, but if it’s still raining (or supposed to rain soon), it’s difficult to get the can dried out properly. (Sometimes in this situation I’ve turned my can on its side and used my backup can instead until the main can has had a chance to dry.)

      • As for accumulated water that the trash collectors are dumping: If people actually brought the cans back onto their property after the trash was collected (which is what they’re supposed to do, but 80% of the people on my alley don’t), presumably they would have closed the lids then and there wouldn’t be any accumulated water in the cans.
        What drives me nuts is that — despite the massive rat problem in many areas of D.C. — DPW didn’t choose a model of can with a latchable lid. (When I asked about this at the Ward 1 Rat Summit, the director of DPW claimed that that was because “we need to look out for our seniors,” or something to that effect.)

  • Last week they picked up trash but not recycling in my alley. Can’t square that one … if you can’t get one truck down, why not both?

    I suspect it just takes longer (understandably) to do the job in snow and ice, so they skip some parts of the route to stay on schedule.

  • They’re just using it as an excuse. My neighbors and I got out and shoveled the entire alley so that the trash truck could get through and they still didn’t pick anything up. Incredibly lazy but I’m glad the dpw people could go back and say how terrible the alleys were that they couldn’t do their job.

    I guess we can hold onto all our trash until it warms up so they don’t have an excuse.

  • The Fort Totten trash station is also an option for residents to drop off garbage: http://dpw.dc.gov/service/fort-totten-transfer-station.

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