Dumpster Management to Avoid Pests
By Chris Williams on September 21, 2011.
Q. Our condominium property has had an ongoing problem with rats around the dumpsters. We finally convinced the management company to address the problem. They’ve been baiting for rats but we want them to also address problems caused by the dumpsters, which are really a mess. As President of the Condo Association, I want to present some dumpster guidelines that we should follow from the pest control point of view. Can you help?
A. Those of us in the pest control industry deal with dumpsters and their pests all the time. And you’re right, poor dumpster management is a big contributing factor to pest problems. We wish all of our customers were as concerned.
Poorly managed dumpsters have many bad characteristics which attract pests. When pick-up is not scheduled frequently enough, garbage overflows or is left next to the dumpster instead where it is easily accessible to rats and other pests. Dumpster covers are missing or never closed. Or, the dumpster itself is so banged up and dented that doors can’t close. Residents are part of the problem when they just can’t be bothered to open the doors and actually put garbage bags into the dumpster. Sometimes the drain plug is long gone so liquefied food oozes out and rats can enter. The dumpster is rarely cleaned so there is a buildup of crud on both inside and outside surfaces that attracts rats and other pests. Your pest control technician will probably not have much success baiting for rats as long as there is dumpster food spillage to compete with his bait.
Ten Guidelines for Good Dumpster Management:
1. Dumpsters should be located at least 50 feet, and preferably more than 100 feet, from outside doors.
2. Dumpsters should be situated on a thick concrete pad or on wheels to keep rats from burrowing underneath.
3. There should be no thick shrubs around dumpster enclosures since they hide rat burrows and accumulate garbage, and make inspection difficult. Weeds or grass around a dumpster should be trimmed close.
4. Dumpster lids should be kept closed. If there’s so much trash that the lid can’t close, then either a bigger container (or more containers) is required, or more frequent pickups should be scheduled. Users need to close the doors after they’ve deposited trash.
5. In areas of high rodent activity, dumpsters should be emptied late in the day so they are not left full overnight.
6. Dumpsters should be washed out regularly, using high pressure and a degreasing solution. Occasionally, when the dumpster is being emptied, the slab underneath the dumpster should be cleaned.
7. Drain holes should never be left open (except during cleaning). Plugs should be in place or the opening should be screened.
8. Dumpsters should not be damaged, leaking, or rusted through, and the lids should close properly. Otherwise, they should be replaced. In fact, trash service agreements should specify that dumpsters shall be replaced with new or reconditioned dumpsters on a regular basis.
9. Residents should be encouraged to place trash in, not around, the dumpster. Loose food waste should not be placed in the dumpster; it should be in tied-off heavy-duty plastic bags.
10. Dumpsters should be checked by condo maintenance staff twice daily, and any trash picked up that didn’t end up inside. Staff should also police the area immediately after the dumpster has been emptied or moved.