Is Removing Public Trash Bins The Answer To Our Litter Problem?


It’s not the first time we’ve asked that question, and the answer we’ve gotten in the past from readers and local officials is “No.”

Yet, following the mid-July meeting between Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and Department of Sanitation Borough Superintendent Joe Lupo, in which the pol said Lupo agreed “immediate action needs to be taken,” it seems the only action taken so far is the removal of a handful of public litter baskets. 

There’s this one at Avenue Z and East 17th Street that we were keeping an eye on. It was overflowing the day Cymbrowitz had his meeting, and despite the “immediate action” it stayed overflowing for nearly a week, with debris blowing into the intersection.

Photo by Vickie P.

Photo by Vickie P.

And then when they finally emptied it, they took the can away as well:

Submitted by reader.

Submitted by reader.

And while people who would normally litter continue to litter, those who are responsible are the ones burdened by the removal of these trash cans.

“Had to carry doggy poop for blocks because apparently their solution to the overflowing garbage situation was to remove the garbage can,” the reader who submitted the above photo said.

We also noticed fewer cans on Sheepshead Bay Road.

Now, we have shown in the past that removing a bin can lead to less litter on a corner, but more pickups would have the same effect without inconveniencing anybody.

And before we hear this “budget cut” nonsense, it’s worth noting that except for one year, the budget of the Department of Sanitation has increased every year for the past five years. Womp womp.

  • Subway Stinker

    Sanitation and transit have to be our neighborhood pols’ greatest failures. None of the many electeds who represent this broad community generally called Sheepshead Bay seem to be able to get much done for either topic. The best excuse is that the district lines cross over too many electeds and so they bleat “not in my district’. Maybe our new Boro President can convene a congregation of elected officials to meet and solve some of this. ? Also, if you are old enough to remember the push for Co-Terminality, that was supposed to solve the issue of district lines? Ha ha.

  • tony

    Removing the cans really,people will just use the floor, then more man power to sweep it up ,smh

    • AveUAKADirtyU

      If the trash can isn’t there people wouldn’t bring their trash from home and dump it into the trash can causing it to overflow.

      • NYC Cit

        How about a trash car with a restrictive opening so you can only put small items in it, no garbage bags or other household garbage? But if those are never emptied we still have the same problem. Why can’t a street sweeping machine (that goes 2-5 times/week through every street) be equipped with a mechanism to pick up and dump in those baskets? They already drive the route anyway…

        • Guy

          A trash can with a restrictive opening would maybe solve the problem without even needing extra pickups since house hold trash wouldn’t be there to fill them up as quickly.

      • Alex Shafiro

        The absence of a trash can is not going to stop people from throwing away there trash. And I thought we were trying to solve the trash problem not the illegal dumping of trash.

    • J-Dawg

      I remember when the area was prepping for Sandy — the pails were placed close to buildings and turned upside down — and people STILL were placing trash on top of the pails.

      Maybe a pilot program – less pails, but daily pickups. Test to see what could induce the right behavior.

  • Mike

    How about replacing them with solar-powered trash compactors like in Manhattan?

    • raylotekka

      I’ve never heard of these solar powered trash compactors … off to Google this!

      • Mike

        They have been popping up all over downtown.
        For garbage and for recyclable.

      • raylotekka

        Ah. These things:

        Apparently, they’re already in some areas of Brooklyn, but while they are serviced by the Dept of Sanitation, they were supplied by local business improvement district organizations. At a cost of $4,000 as opposed to $125 (price of current green NYC trash can), the Dept of Sanitation has rejected this idea as too expensive, as it would cost the city 32 times what is normally spent.
        Unless local merchants associations and the like would wish to foot the bill, these Big Belly trash compactors will not be showing up on our streets anytime soon.

        • Mike

          What would be the cost of more frequent garbage pickups?

          Regarding footing the bill – I wish the tax money collected from the sales and business would go for something more useful.

  • BrooklynBus

    Guess Sanitation is following Transit’s lead hoping people will carry their trash to the nearest subway station garbage bin, just as Transit was hoping people would use the cans provided by Sanitation.

    The answer is more community cleanups. Have residents do the job we are all paying taxes for so the City can continue to increase both fines and taxes while providing less services. Way to go.

  • bill

    The ultimate solution is to have edible garbage. Unrealistic? Just think of a P&J. Like P&J? It comes in a edible container – bread.

    • Horatio Caine, CSI Miami

      Yes, bring back Soylent Green.

    • Jimmy

      Let’s have the homeless in our area eat the trash up. Also, you can have the white mortgage owners eat the trash up. After all, it is about personal responsibility.

  • JimJam

    How about just getting larger cans? Instead of $125 they’ll cost 150. The population in our area has been increasing and yet we expect the same resources to provide the same amount of service. That’s backwards math.

  • anonymous

    We don’t need bigger cans… just more frequent pickups. And maybe a sign on the cans that say they shouldn’t be used for household waste.

    • BrooklynBus

      When I worked a couple of summers for DEP in te early 70s, I learned the problem is that litter baskets are Sanitation’s lowest priority. That the baskets are only picked up when household pick up is completed, and there is still time remaining. I wonder if that has changed. Are separate trucks assigned just to pick up litter baskets?

      • BrooklynBus

        In answer to my own question, I just saw a sanitation truck empty two litter baskets before picking up household trash, so I guess the procedure has changed. They also returned both baskets not quite empty.

      • Horatio Caine, CSI Miami

        it is my understanding the “basket collection trucks” were ended during the Bloomberg administration. The baskets are picked up after or during a household collection run. This is shortsighted at best.

  • Alfonce

    we actually need more and bigger garbage pails. The intersection at Bay Parkway and 86th Street is a complete pig sty. It is always filled with litter all of the time. the pails are always overflowing. The street next to TD Bank is always litter strewn as well.

    so taking away pails? yeah, who’s bright idea was that?

    • Jimmy

      What we need is for South Brooklynites to pitch in and pay for their own garbage collection. When your candidates Bloomberg and Guilliani were in power, they neglected every minority group, who did not vote for them. Now that a new administration is in charge, those Lhota voters in South Brooklyn should have trash thrown in their face. Teepee their homes I say, dumb whites, who are holding on to income inequality in Brooklyn. “White Trash.”

    • Guy

      A lot of that trash is house hold trash.

  • mark henselt

    One other problem that is not mentioned here. It appears that, in a nod to “efficiiency” and “productivity,” the street sweepers barrel down blocks testing the speed limit and blowing half the debris from the streets onto the sidewalks. I cannot remember the sweepers doing that when I was a boy. Still, the dept of sanitation can proudly tout how often they’ve swept the streets, at a reduced cost to boot.

  • Alex Shafiro

    They just removed the trash cans from ave x! The street is full of trash!