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Report on the Status of DPW's Ongoing Trash and Recycling Can Removal Operations, Higher Recycling Rates

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
DPW appreciates residents’ patience as challenges are overcome and their higher recycling rates.

(Washington, DC)  The Department of Public Works reported today on the status of its trash and recycling can removal operation.  DPW also reported higher recycling rates since residents received the larger recycling cans:  +15% in April and +17% in March, compared to the last year for the same two months.

Background Information

  • DPW distributed approximately 210,000 new trash and recycling containers to its trash and recycling collection customers between February and April 2014 and advised residents that the Department would remove unwanted cans once they made that request through 311, placed a “Take Me” sticker on each unwanted can and put the cans where their trash/recycling are collected.
  • Removals began in late February; however, DPW faced three significant challenges to provide this service in a timely manner:
    • ​The same people handling removals also are part of the snow team, which meant removals ceased while snow events were underway.  Multiple snow events occurred between late February and the end of March to pull staff off of the removal operation.
    • From the beginning of the removal operation, staff found a minority of the cans to be removed had “Take Me” stickers but clustered around them were cans that residents wanted removed but they had no stickers.
    • Finally, while sanitation regulations allow residents to have their cans in public space between 6:30 pm the day before their collections and 8 pm on their collection day, in many neighborhoods residents keep their cans in public space year-round.  There was no way to distinguish between unwanted and wanted cans unless they bore a sticker or the cans were upside down.
  • Over time, wanted and unwanted cans began to crowd the alleys and impede safe movement.
  • Safety concerns coupled with residents’ increasing demands for speedier can removal led to DPW’s May blitz that began May 10 and continues.
  • To have an unwanted can removed, call 311, make sure the can is empty, turn it upside down, put a “Take Me” sticker on the can, and place where trash and recycling are collected.

Removal Statistics

  • Since late February, DPW has removed about 71,000 cans that are to be recycled.  Of the 71,000 cans, about 60,000 were removed before May 10, when the blitz began and 11,000 were removed during the first seven days of the blitz (May 10-17, no removals were made on Mother’s Day).
  • An additional 5,300 cans were removed using trash trucks that crushed the cans, which will be transported to the waste to energy facility in Fairfax County. These cans total less than 7 percent of the total number of cans removed.
  • The total number of cans removed during the blitz is about 16,300 (11,000 cans to be recycled plus 5,300 cans that won’t be recycled).
  • As of May 19, DPW had sent 31 tractor-trailer loads of old containers to be recycled by the trash/recycling can manufacturer.  This equates to 265.33 tons or 530,660 pounds of unwanted containers at an average weight of 20 pounds, which equals 26,533 containers so far.
  • More than 93 percent of the old containers are being recycled.
  • DPW is returning comparable cans within 48 hours to residents who believe their can(s) should not have been removed.
  • DPW is caught up on service requests.
  • DPW will continue the blitz through May 30, traveling through District neighborhoods looking for unwanted, old cans residents want removed that are upside down and/or have a “Take Me” sticker on them.