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From the Forum – DC Trash and Recycling Cans

by Prince Of Petworth December 17, 2015 at 2:05 pm 27 Comments


DC Trash and Recycling Cans

“I bought a house in DC about a month ago and other than the hassle of moving, so far, so good. However, the house did not have trash or recycling cans when we moved in. I tried for a week to call DPW and no one ever answered the phone and the voicemail box was full. I gave up with that approach and just paid $110 for new trash cans online. I received an automated receipt confirming my payment and saying I’d receive cans in 5-7 days. It’s now been two weeks since that payment and I still have no trash or recycling cans.

Can anyone make any suggestions for how to actually get trash/recycling cans in DC? I’ve e-mailed my ANC rep with no response. I’ve emailed my council-member’s constituent services person with no response. I’ve called 311 and was transferred to “solid waste” who took my information and said they’d call me back. Of course they didn’t.

At this point I’m getting quite tired of piling up trash outside (which obviously attracts vermin) and am in disbelief it’s this hard to get a trash can and a bit terrified about ever needing anything else if obtaining a trash can is this difficult.”

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  • petworther

    Try talking to your ANC rep.

    • MMMkay

      Sounds like OP tried that already.

  • CLich

    This exact same thing happened to me. I called them once, every hour during regular hours until I got ahold of someone. Eventually, when I did get someone, it was a run around until I eventually got the right person who was able to handle it for me. To put this more simply: GOOD LUCK!!! It is such a hassle!!!!!!!!!!

  • jcm
  • JS
    • Cass


    • houseintherear

      He is wonderful!

  • Truxtoner

    DC 311. Call them. It’s the easiest thing ever. I had the same problem when I bought my house and they sent one out within a week.

  • tke

    All homes received new trash and recycle bins during the distribution in the past year. One of your nearby neighbors probably stole yours because they looked abandoned. When the city assigned them, they gave each bin a specific number on them that matched it to a specific address. So, during trash day you can walk around your alley and find out who stole your originally assigned bins.

    I don’t have any idea what to do with the new bins you ordered, but I would try and get information on your old bins. Maybe you can track them down. Good Luck!

    • dat

      I’ve also seen numerous houses clearly being flipped where they use the cans for debris and they end up in the dumpster. Real pain in the ass for the new owner.

    • ah

      “Looked abandoned”? More like “looked like an opportunity to steal the cans from the vacant house”.

      DC is so hit or miss with the supercan program – when it works, it’s great. But >50% of the time it doesn’t work, leading to frustrations like this.

    • reality

      And when you get your cans, paint your address all over it or else they’ll get snatched again! (We’ve learned our lesson)

  • Anonymous Shaw Dweller

    There is too much of the old DC goverment where nobody was accountable. The DC City employees that staff this office, staring with the manager, should all be fired for not professionally managing their phone communications. I think your best bet would be to order via the Online Services App which can be used for this (I believe), and also is available through the Web at https://dc311.secure.force.com/ … where such requests are tracked.

  • anon

    A neighbor of mine recently had their trash and recycling cans stolen. They paid for replacements, which the city dropped off and left in the middle of the alley. The new ones were promptly stolen. So, good luck!

  • CR CL

    Huh. I had great experiences working with both DPW and 311. I had to follow up a few times, but they were able to tell me the approximate day and time the garbage can was expected to be delivered. The man who delivered it even gave it to me personally at my front door. Any chance they left it at your door and it was stolen? That is why we had to request a new one initially :(

  • Anonymous

    We just bought a new home recently as well. I did not see anywhere online where you could pay for the cans. The instructions I followed said to make the check out to the DC Treasurer and mail it to DPW. I was skeptical about such an informal method of payment, but tried it and we had our cans in about a week.

  • Unclear

    I had the same issue when I moved a month ago. Called 311 and I had free cans within a week. I have actually called a few times and always got someone of the phone easily. Not sure why you aren’t getting a response but I would recommend to just keep calling at different times a day until you get someone. I would talk to my neighbor and let them know the issue and ask if I can use their cans until I get the issue resolved.

  • lou

    Hmm. Someone kept stealing our recycling bin. The last time, it disappeared for about a month. And when they finally returned it, it was smashed because they obviously backed a car into it. We tried to continue to use, but the city finally took it away. I called DPW when I couldn’t find an online form. They told me to mail in a check. Yeah, right.

    Fortunately our next door neighbor lets us “borrow” his bin.

  • ET

    The procedures for ordering cans really needs to be fixed. First they don’t tell you how easily. Then you call 311 and their how to seems so much like the Nigerian email scam doesn’t seem to insure that people get their cans much less get them before they grow old and only after much back and forth.

  • Dont give up

    If you think this is hard, try getting a replacement can. Someone doused our trash cans in gasoline and burned them up. We didn’t get new ones for nearly 4 months, and this required no less than 30 calls and 3 letters by our condo board.

  • Ariadne Henry

    Time to call your Councilmember! Really. They are wonderful at getting agencies to DO THEIR JOB! You’ll probably get the member’s assistant–they are usually very efficient. Talk to them and explain what you’ve done so far. They will help.

  • Truxtoner

    I just have to say, I’m surprised by the trouble people have had. I seriously just dialed 3-1-1, someone answered, I said I needed a garbage and recycling can. She noted they had delivered them a month before I moved in. I explained I just bought the house and there aren’t any there. She put in the order for new ones. I didn’t pay to replace anything and had them in less than a week.

    Not sure if OP means 3-1-1 when they say they called DPW, but if not, just dial 3-1-1 and try that first.

  • R

    When you finally get them, be sure to paint your address on them. Ours regularly end up half way down the alley every trash day.

  • SteveInLogan

    “…One of your nearby neighbors probably stole yours…”
    “…find out who stole your originally assigned bins…”
    “…they end up in the dumpster…”
    “…A neighbor of mine recently had their trash and recycling cans stolen…”
    “…The new ones were promptly stolen…”
    “…Someone kept stealing our recycling bin…”
    “…it was smashed because they obviously backed a car into it…”

    And the best one:
    “…Someone doused our trash cans in gasoline and burned them up…”

    I can’t even.

    • FridayGirl

      +1. My new list of life goals includes “don’t live anywhere in DC that requires me to be responsible for garbage cans.” This is ridiculous.

  • Anon

    That’s funny—we have the opposite problem. The alley is littered with trash and recycling cans abandoned by residents or associated with vacant houses. Just come by the alley between 3rd, 4th, R, and Florida NW and take any unlabeled ones. First come first served!

  • Kevin/DPW

    Hey there… Kevin T. here. Since I am no longer with the Office of the Director, try calling 202-673-6833 and asking for Kevin *Bryant*. If you are unable to get what you need, send/resend an email to me ([email protected]) with “PrinceofPetworth” in the subject line.


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