Editorial: Trash the trash can policy

May 10, 2013
By

The City’s silly sidewalk trash can policy, recently revealed by the Gazette, is a classic case of the perfect as enemy of the good, not to mention Boston’s trend of back-room corporate deals driving allocation of public resources.

Right now, most sidewalk trash cans in JP and other areas are tiny, lidless things that spill garbage and are placed and emptied with no apparent plan. The City would rightfully ticket us residents if we had trash cans like its own.

The City’s solution is to acquire extremely expensive mini trash/recycling compactors called BigBellies. The current cost-covering method is a deal where a New York company buys the compactors in exchange for selling advertising on them. Surely the can placement plan involves target demographics as much as trash needs, as evidenced by their dominance in touristy and affluent areas. In any case, the expense makes the replacement slow-motion.

That is like saying, “I’ll drive to work when somebody buys me a Rolls-Royce.” What about getting a Honda?

As you can see at any convenience store, there exist normal, big trash cans with lids. They cost maybe 5 percent of a BigBelly’s price. Every crummy little City trash can could be replaced with two such cans, one with a regular trash sticker and one with a recycling sticker. It would make a big difference at an affordable cost. BigBellies are great and we look forward to getting them, but it’s just plain stupid to litter our streets while we wait.

In addition, Public Works should create, with public input, a transparent, rational plan for trash can placement and emptying. Volunteers with the City’s Boston Shines cleanup would be a good resource to consult.