Ask MRN: Will city pick up extra garbage bags that don’t fit into my tote?

Overstuffed garbage tote

The city web page notes maximum load for a tote is 200 pounds, but Kevin McClean, director of Central Services, says the tipper picking up the totes typically can accommodate up to about 300 pounds. | Photo courtesy of Jim Rapp

Dear MRN: I recently saw one of the city’s garbage totes in my neighborhood with several bags of garbage that did not fit into the tote. Will the city still pick up all of those bags?

Kevin McClean, director of Central Services, says he would tell employees in his department not to pick up the garbage in the picture shown above.

“That is over and beyond the limit,” he said.

The city’s web page for garbage collection has a section of “Dos and Don’ts,” and one of the items says, “All items must be inside an appropriate sized container with a tight closing lid.”

McClean isn’t going to complain about a little extra in one of the city’s totes.

“I don’t mind a bag or two above (the rim of the tote). That’s fine,” he said. “We will pick up as many bags as you want, but the ones that are over and above, they should put a sticker on them. If it has a sticker, we’ll pick it up. They can set the (extra bags) on top of the tote or set them down alongside it.”

Garbage bags inside the totes do not need stickers.

The city web page notes maximum load for a tote is 200 pounds, but McClean says the tipper picking up the totes typically can accommodate up to about 300 pounds. Most totes will accommodate five or six small garbage bags.

The cost for a city resident to use garbage tote is $12.99 monthly per tote. Residents also must pay a one-time $60 fee for the tote to be delivered to a residence. 

All garbage should be inside a bag. The cost of a red sticker for a small garbage bag, up to 16 gallons, is $1.50. Two red stickers are needed for the city to pick up a garbage bag larger than 16 gallons.

“Sometimes we won’t pick up stuff if it’s loose (inside the tote),” he said. “If someone throws a pizza box on top of the garbage bags (inside a tote), I tell my guys to use their judgment. It’s not that big of a deal. I have seen our guys in the past, they don’t want to touch it. I’ve seen guys who throw (an extra pizza box) back on the ground, and I tell them, ‘Don’t ever do that.’ Now we’ve kind of gotten to where they’ll use their judgment or they’ll call me. 

“If someone’s trying to throw their kid’s toy away, we’re not going to take it. However, if someone calls me in advance and says, ‘I would like for you to pick up my kid’s old Big Wheel,’ and they put stickers on it, we’ll come get it.”

McClean says his crews also will pick up larger items, such as a mattress or a bicycle. However, he asks for people to call in advance to know how many stickers will be needed.

“You’re probably going to need a sheet of stickers (10 red stickers at $1.50 apiece),” he said. “If you paid someone else to take it away for you, it will probably cost at least $30. We will pick it up a lot cheaper. If I don’t know about it, I can’t tell the guys about it. They probably won’t pick it up (if it’s not in a garbage bag), even if there’s a sticker or two on it. 

“I would rather pick it up than find it on the street corner. Then we’ll pick it up for free anyway. So if we have somebody calling in to say, ‘Hey, what can I do?’, it helps get the city some money and it keeps the city clean.”

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