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Dear PoPville – Increase in Garbage/Recycling Fines?


Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoPville,

Has anyone else experienced an exponential increase in the trash/recycling enforcement in Dupont Circle? Over the past three months, my co-op on 20th street has received FIVE violations for “failure to separate recycling from other solid waste.” Because we are a building, not a house, the city isn’t even responsible for our trash. We have to pay a private company to pick up our trash/recyclables. Nevertheless, the DC Trash Enforcers are trolling the alleys, going through trash and recycling bins to make sure we are doing it correctly. They pick through the bags and take photographs of the trash. Photos of the offending trash are attached to the notice of violation. To date, our fines for these violations now exceed $1000.

In some cases, we have been able to pass the fine on to the individual violator because the trash police found mail with names amongst the offending trash. But in the cases where we cannot identify who put trash in the wrong place, we as a co-op have to pay for it out of our reserves. This madness is getting expensive.

My questions: why now? I’ve been here for several years and this is a first. How can we protect ourselves from this? Even if I can assure that our residents never ever ever put so much as a kleenex in a recycling bin, how do we know our neighbors aren’t putting trash in our bins? We can’t very well watch them around the clock. Is the trash company liable at all?”

Anyone else getting fined?

You think the enforcers are being overzealous or are they right on? Is it realistic to expect a building to be responsible for their bin? Are we going to be forced to put locks on our trash cans?

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