Community Maintenance Hiring an Expert

The Dirtiest Job of Them All: Trash Removal

It is hotly debated what is considered the dirtiest of the dirty jobs. Working for J&J, Inc. Trash Service, I can say with great confidence that the dirtiest job is, hands down, trash collection.

Anyone in this business has surely seen things they never expected. Handling any sort of garbage would be considered “dirty” to the average person but picture your refrigerator cleanout on a hot August day – that’s what our crews see on a daily basis.

In a perfect world, crews would find trash securely bagged, in garbage cans with secure lids, and with only acceptable* items inside them. The reality is that this job is made considerably dirtier by residents themselves. Waste from a bathroom or kitchen trashcan, such as tissues or spoiled food, or other items such as dog waste bags or soiled diapers contain germs & odors that are more than unpleasant to come in contact with.  Unbagged waste or unsealed trash bags can easily become public health hazards by spreading bacteria and illness throughout your community and trash crews.

Tossing those same bags of waste into a common area of the community without being placed in a can with a lid is a happy invitation for an assortment of wildlife to come hit the buffet and spread it all over the place!  A trash crew should not be expected to clean up this type of preventable mess. It is important to remember that these hardworking crews are here to efficiently remove trash to prevent disease and pest issues, not as a personal clean-up service. It is important for residents to consider how they would like to find the trash out for disposal if they were the ones collecting it.

The pandemic has only helped turn an already dirty job into a filthy one. Residents being at home dramatically increases the amount of trash generated by each household.  Quadruple the size of the trash bag tower in the common area with animals showing up and add a windy rainy forecast…now that is a mess of gigantic proportions waiting to happen! This additional trash causes increased costs to your community as well.

Here are some suggestions for communities to save money and stay CLEAN!

  • Change service days from twice per week to once per week. Obviously, this is a big change to make but not having that second day worth of our labor expense will reflect in unit cost.
  • Eliminate courtesy bulk pick-up. Communities that have also contracted courtesy bulk pick-up can remove this expense from the responsibility of the HOA and individual residents can be responsible for the cost of their bulk item disposal.
  • Become a “totor” community. This means we assign a totor style container to each residence and all trash must be inside for pick up.  Our automated arm trucks, requiring only one employee instead of an entire crew, pick these cans up to dump.  This controls disposal amounts and drastically reduces labor costs.
  • All the above also reduces the standard business expenses we have to calculate into unit costs. Everything from diesel fuel, truck maintenance, tires, labor, disposal, etc. will decrease and can help reduce HOA expense.
  • Bag and seal all trash! Double bag hazardous items such as diapers, spoiled foods, and sanitary waste.
  • Invest in a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid. The proper garbage can will help to keep critters out and prevent inclement weather from blowing trash into the streets.
  • Be aware of acceptable items to put in your trash can for weekly pickup. Household trash is essentially defined as anything in your kitchen or bathroom trash.  This does not include recycling, paint, liquids, your garage cleanout, construction materials, etc. Most garbage trucks grind and pack what goes into the truck.  Hidden glass, wet paint, oil, with shatter and/or spray all over the road and the trash trucks and crews.  Glass and metal hidden in bags can lead to injuries and force crew members to need immediate medical attention and time off work.

Keeping your community’s clean works best when residents and trash crews work together to be efficient and safe.  Removing trash out on scheduled days, not missing pickups, and cleaning up any messes made during collection are some of J&J, Inc.’s priorities each and every day. With residents’ help, we can work to make this job a little less dirty!

By Lisa Barrett

Lisa is the office manager for J&J, Inc. Trash Service in Mount Airy, MD.  She has been with the company for over 5 years and focuses on ensuring the best customer service is provided to all customers, communities, and property managers. She believes that establishing direct relationships and being personally available to property managers is the key to minimizing issues, concerns and keeping trash service running smoothly and efficiently.  When not working on J&J, Inc. tasks, she has been a volunteer for Last Chance Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter, for 8 years.  She adores cats and works each Saturday in one of the rescues cat rooms to help find loving, safe forever homes for them.