BPU Needs To Tweak Its New Garbage Can Plan

We’re not surprised to see complaints regarding the Board of Public Utilities’ plan to start a citywide garbage can program.

BPU customers will be issued a 95-gallon garbage can, which will include a lid. The only charges to customers will be if they need a second garbage can or if the can is broken through customer negligence. If a BPU-provided garbage can needs to be replaced or repaired because of normal wear and tear, the customer will not be charged. While the 95-gallon can has drawn a lot of attention, a 35-gallon option is available upon customer request. The smaller can is similar to the common plastic garbage cans available at most local retailers.

As much as some people won’t want to hear this, BPU-provided garbage cans make sense. Too many neighborhoods in the city have had insect or rodent problems because people refuse to buy garbage cans for curbside use. Putting garbage bags out at the curb too often leads to bags being ripped open by deer, feral cats or other animals, which attracts cockroaches and mice. The last time we checked, no one wants to have infestations in their neighborhood, particularly when they are eminently preventable.

We do note two valid complaints that we hope BPU board members will consider before formally approving this program.

First, an arbitrary 6 p.m. time for garbage to be put out to the curb is a horrible idea. Some people have to put their garbage out either before or after they go to work an evening shift, and we think neighbors prefer putting the garbage out a few hours early rather than in the middle of the night or the extreme early morning. Also, while the BPU says it won’t police the 6 p.m. start time, we can easily see neighbor disputes that result in people calling the BPU about a garbage can put out at 5 p.m. solely because one neighbor doesn’t like the other. The 6 p.m. idea is a useful guideline, but attaching a fine to it is a bad idea.

The second quite valid complaint is that people don’t want to pay for a replacement can because cans customers have bought over the years have been damaged by BPU garbage collectors. Enough people from enough different walks of life have raised that particular complaint for it to have validity. It is unreasonable to expect people to use video cameras to prove that they didn’t damage their garbage can, yet how else can people prove that they aren’t responsible for damage to their garbage can? We honestly don’t have a good solution to that problem, but we urge the BPU board not to simply dismiss those complaints from users.

The program should be tweaked, but the general idea is a good one.


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