Collapsible Trash Bins May Solve Issues Throughout the Downtown Areas

South End Forum Moderator Steve Fox displays a collapsible recycling bin, part of new idea that residents hope to pilot in the South End with the City. The bins for trash and recycling would potentially help solve the trash bin storage problems encountered in dense, urban neighborhoods
of Boston. City officials on hand were enthusiastic about the idea.

When living in a dense, urban neighborhood like the South End, Back Bay, Fenway or Beacon Hill, the question once a week is always what to do with the huge, dad-blamed trash bins.

Not having the luxury of a backyard or a passageway, many residents find themselves at a loss with where to store their big, plastic trash bins.

Now, South End Forum Moderator Steve Fox and Eight Streets President Michael Almond believe they might have found a solution – collapsible trash bins. On Tuesday night, at the South End Forum’s quarterly meeting, they unveiled the idea to City officials and got a very enthusiastic reception.

“We want to do a pilot project in the South End and select a participating neighborhood and test out this new collapsible bin and see if it’s effective,” said Fox. “If it works, it could be a solution across the entire city all the way from the South End to Beacon Hill.”

Fox and Almond began working on the solution when Eight Streets encountered a tremendous rat problem last summer and fall. In battling that separate problem (which has more to do with food availability), they found new collapsible trash bins that seemed like an answer to the bin storage problem so prevalent in the tight, downtown neighborhoods.

“We did also talk to the trash contractor, Sunrise Scavenger, and they liked the idea, but said people might steal them and they would become everyone’s laundry basket in the South End,” laughed Fox.

The collapsible bins would be for regular trash and for recycling. Made out of thick canvas, they collapse into a small circle that can more easily be stored in a foyer or mud room within a home rather than left outside or on a front sidewalk.

“We are very interested in collaborating on this pilot,” said Chris Osgood, chief of streets, transportation and sanitation. “The next step here would be to sit down and look at how we could proceed, but I’m excited about the idea.”

Councilor Ed Flynn said he supports the measure as well, and noted that trash disposal is a serious issue in the South End.

“I really want to thank Michael Almond who got the ball rolling here with Steve Fox,” he said. “On a cold, rainy night last month we walked the neighborhood and witnessed so many rats in and out of the barrels – hundreds of them. I want to thank them in particular. I support it 100 percent.”

Councilor Kim Janey also was quite taken with the idea.

“I’m excited about this,” she said. “I want to compliment you in taking the initiative to find a solution to this kind of problem. The number of calls I get from people in the South End is huge because they don’t have space for the big barrels we give out. This could be the solution to the whole barrel issue. I think I’m interested in working on getting a pilot here for this.”

State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz said he saw some possible issues with logistics, but felt like it was worth a try to solve a persistent problem in his district.

A representative from Public Works said the bins are a good idea for solving storage issues, but they won’t stop rats from getting into them. He said the issue with rats is about putting the trash out in the morning and cutting the food supply off. That, he said, can be achieved with the Zero Waste plan, where one recycles more and doesn’t put food in the trash – instead using the garbage disposal or reusing.

That said, City officials on Tuesday night were enthusiastic to take the next step towards a pilot program.

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