Event Notices Health & Environment

Boston Public Works Informational Meetings and Online Survey for Upcoming Residential Trash Contract

Residential trash pickup truck at intersection of Prince and Salem Streets in Boston’s North End (NEWF photo)

The City of Boston is considering the next 3-year contract for residential trash pickup that will go into effect in July 2014. In preparation for the bidding and contract terms, Public Works is holding a series of informational meetings and distributing an online survey. The meeting for North End, Beacon Hill and West End residents is on October 22, 2013 at Boston City Hall, 6:00 pm in the Piemonte Room. More information in the DPW release shown below.


CONTRACTS 2014-2017


The Waste Reduction Division of the City of Boston Public Works Department (PWD) will be entering into new 3-year contracts with residential trash and recycling contractors in July of 2014. The invitation to bid process for interested vendors will begin in January of 2014.

In preparation, the PWD is seeking input through a series of informational meetings and an on-line survey* for all interested Boston residents.

The meetings and neighborhoods to be addressed:

Wednesday, September 25 at 6:00PM Boston City Hall, 5th Floor-Piemonte Room
• East Boston, Charlestown, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Dorchester, Mattapan, South Boston, Allston/Brighton

Wednesday, October 2 at 6:00PM Tobin Community Center, 1481 Tremont Street, Mission Hill
• Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Roxbury

Wednesday, October 9 at 6:00PM Boston Public Library at Copley, 500 Boylston Street, Commonwealth Salon
• Back Bay, Fenway, South End

Wednesday, October 16 at 6:00PM, Josiah Quincy School, 885 Washington Street, Chinatown
• Chinatown, Leather District

Tuesday, October 22 at 6:00PM Boston City Hall, 5th Floor–Piemonte Room
     • Beacon Hill, Bay Village, North End, West End

For additional information please contact Frank O’Brien of Boston PWD at Frank.O’Brien@cityofboston.gov.

*The on-line survey is available at www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks. Hard copies are also available at local branches of the Boston Public Libraries.

33 Replies to “Boston Public Works Informational Meetings and Online Survey for Upcoming Residential Trash Contract

  1. Can’t wait for Oct. 22, 2013~~~I have been anticipating this meeting for years !!! Please ~~ All North End Residents come to this VERY IMPORTANT Meeting ~~~ if approved, It could solve loads of trash and rodent problems we have here in our Neighborhood !!! We NEED to have our trash picked up later in the morning, so that trash doesn’t sit out the streets for 14 hours (if not more) !!! I am not an early riser~~~~ BUT I WILL Comply ~~ If the City gives us the chance to correct this GOSH Awful Problem !!! If we all sacrifice a little~~~~it will go a long way !!!!!
    Let’s try to do things differently~~~ it’s certainly NOT WORKING the way it is now !!!!

  2. I agree with Janet. I would also like to add, that anyone owning property in the No. End or
    for that matter anywhere in the city should have rules & regulations pertaining to Trash & Noise
    posted on the property where every tenant can view them. This should definitely be enforced by
    the City with no Exceptions, whether they are absentee Landlords or Slumlords.

    Capital was a Big Joke, and if they couldn’t bend over & pick up any fallen trash, immediately
    the contract should be broken. Capital had it too easy. There are plenty of
    people out of work, I think the City should definitely be in control, not outside contractors.

    The City is on an All Time High, and can more than afford Trash Trucks and very much needed
    Snow Removal & Plow Trucks. Some of the Snow Removal Trucks or Plow Trucks can only
    go Forward & Back and can’t move from left to right, what a disgrace. The No. End which is
    referred to as Boston’s Hidden Jewel looks more like the City Dump.

    The City has to enforce all these ordinances that have been out for years, if not, this is just
    another SHAM. If the fines were in effect we would not be in this position. We the taxpayers
    should be informed of all the offenders in the neighborhood, whether it is Trash or Noise, and
    let us get rid of these people for once and for all. In order to get rid of the Rats, we first have to
    get rid of the Pigs. We also need more Cameras in Problem Areas of the No. End.

  3. We only need two pick-ups a week. The normal person does not generate enough trash for 3 days a week. Leave a full bag in your kitchen for a couple of days…it’s not going have a major impact on your life.

    1. Why would I want to leave a bag of trash in my kitchen for a couple of days so it stinks up the kitchen. Leave the three day pick up so it doesn’t impact my life

      1. Single people may generate less trash… what about families? dirty diapers? Thank God my condo has a shoot. I really feel for people that don’t. When I lived in a building with no shoot it was tough, especially with such small kitchens.

    2. Great point John. We have it way too easy with 3 pickups a week. People come to rely on it rather than think creatively as you suggest. Most of what I see in trash bags can be recycled, yet it seems Boston is behind on recycling with only 1 pickup per week. We all see a lot of discussion and complaints on this site and rightfully so.

      It’s exactly as Janet says above: “if we all sacrifice a little…”

      Eliminating one trash pickup per week will surely go a long way in helping to keep the neighborhood cleaner.

      Inevitably some will not agree with such a suggestion – to them I’d respectfully say think of ways to either reduce your trash or find a way to live with it for an extra day in your kitchen or somewhere in your apartment/condo. Or recycle more, and rinse things out before putting them in the recycling bag – they can stay for days in your apartment and not smell.

      1. People will acclimate to 2 days a week…it’s not the end of the world. Say we do pick up on Monday and Thursday. That means conceivably no trash on the streets from 10AM Thursday until Sunday night….the rats would not know what to do.

        My family usually doesn’t even utilize the Wednesday pick-up. People need to sacrifice a little if they want cleaner streets. The status quo is not working.

        1. you know that no matter how many pick ups there are, these people are still going to put the trash on the street whenever they want. which means it sits there even longer for the rats and seagulls and other animals to pick at it. keep the 3 days a week pick up and add another recycle day. landlords had to join a city recycle program. what a joke. when are you all going to learn that no matter what we do, transient residents are not going to follow the ruls. they don’t care. maybe not all, but most. bring back bobby popcorn. he swept the the streets every day. the city should be emptying city barrels multiple time a day. i work in cambridge.i see them they do it at least 2-3 times a day.

          1. But you can’t let a few bad apples get in the way of progress. You’re right, you’ll never get 100% compliance, but that’s not a reason to throw in the towel. I agree with another recycling day, but I think two days of trash coincident with two days of recycling pickup is the way to go. And no more overnight trash – the trash and recycling should only be allowed to be put on the street on the morning of the pickup (like from 5 am on).

  4. No matter what you change the rules to, it feels like only a small percentage of us cares and abides by them. You can make them whatever you want (2 pickups, later with no overnight) but the bulk of the problem is the people that don’t care and put stuff out whenever they want – like the couch that showed up last night in front of my place. The only way we will see a significant change in my opinion is to enforce (almost impossible to do effectively) or change the model to something like full time bins/dumpsters like they have in Europe. Everything else I have seen proposed to date is just shifting the problem or not really addressing it because of the inability to enforce it. Just my $0.02…..

    1. Excellent point Mark B. But I do see Inspectional Services coming around more than I used to, and I see them opening bags, looking for any pieces of mail that might identify the offender, and writing tickets accordingly.

      We’ll always have that “not my problem” mentality of people putting trash on the curb during off days and in front of other people’s buildings. I do think that sort of thing will subside in time if the trash pickups were altered as discussed above.

      I see I’m getting more thumbs down on my support of less trash pickups. It only makes me want to reiterate my thoughts that we are spoiled in the North End with 3 trash pickups per week. I honestly think it becomes a crutch that people rely on too much.

      The answer to a cleaner neighborhood seems very simple to me – if you want less trash on the streets, then put less trash on the streets. Reduce the amount of weekly pickups from 3 to 2, and reduce the time that the trash is allowed to be on the curb on pickup days as Janet mentions above. It makes no sense to me that we are allowed to place trash on the street after 5 pm the night before a pickup that doesn’t occur until approx. 7 am (depending on where you live). Surely this window can be closed a bit. I’d love to see a rule that says you can’t put trash out until 4 am the earliest on the morning of a pickup. Granted that may make it a hardship for some – so maybe we say midnight. But you see my point.

      Salem St Kid makes and excellent point with his/her sarcasm – “leave the 3 day pickup so it doesn’t impact my life”. Well, the other side of that coin is that the 3 day pickup impacts everyone’s life since it leads to almost constant garbage on the streets.

      Change for the better will only come with a bit of sacrifice. And after a while that sacrifice just becomes “something you do” and a way of life in the City.

      It seems to me that the cleanliness of other neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and Charlestown is not a byproduct of magic but does come with some level of sacrifice on the part of the residents. So clearly a cleaner neighborhood is possible with a bit more effort.

      1. Nothing can be done to change the pickup times until a NEW CONTRACT with the waste pickup company is negotiated. (whenever that is).

  5. Many of us already voted on the timing and frequency of trash pick up, and I consider that a done deal. I don’t recall the exact resolution, but the neighborhood council polled the community and made a recommendation.

    If we have 3 pick up days now, which could be seen as a luxury to some, why would you ever want to give that up? Just because some people don’t need it does not mean others don’t. Once it is gone, we will never ever be able to boost it back to 3 pick up days. Don’t ruin a good thing.

    I would love to see the new contractor take some pride in their work (even if it is trash collection) and actually pick up a stray item of trash that falls out of a bag or something like that. I have far too often seen a bag rip while they are picking it up and they just leave the spilled trash on the street. It is beyond lazy. Most anyone would lose their job for this kind of laziness and poor attention to detail.

    1. I see what you’re saying but the premise of your argument is that a 3 day a week pickup schedule is a good thing. My respectful point is that there is a large contingency that does not accept that premise.

      I am not trying to be insensitive or a wisea**, but I honestly cannot fathom why someone would absolutely NEED a 3 day pickup. I recall the poll, and of course I voted.

      I disagree but let’s say we stay with a 3 day pickup schedule – I’d at least like to see some level of compromise and shorten the window during which trash can be on the street. People would still get 3 days of pickup but the rule could be that you can’t put the trash out before midnight.

      1. stop trying to change things. some buildings need the 3 day pickups. just because you don’t need it doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t need them. all these condo’s in the north end are supposed to have management companies. where are they?

        1. “Need” and ‘like” are two different things. Life won’t be horrible for people if we only had 2 days a week and I think that would help getting things cleaned up. I’d go for both 2 days a week AND only having trash on the streets between 6AM and 9AM. The people who whine need to offer some alternative to what we currently have.

    2. Good thing? Gee, I look on the streets and I fail to see how any part of the trash pick-up procedures are a “good thing”. What we are doing now simply doesn’t work.

    3. Mostly agree with you. Some people are slobs and some people put trash out when they aren’t supposed to, but that happens in every neighborhood on earth and doesn’t explain why the North End gets particularly nasty. For us, overwhelmingly the issue is ripped bags falling apart when collectors pick them up. It’s not usually the collectors fault, but in lieu of the city cracking down on bag pickers, I think we need to include in the Public Works discussion either requiring collectors to pick up all the ripped trash or hiring some old fashioned on foot street sweepers to follow them once or twice a week.

      In all honesty, I don’t understand how going from 2 to 3 would help. It’ll lower the number of hours per week trash is on the street, but it won’t lower the overall amount of trash. People will replace 3 moderate trash piles with 2 giant ones. That won’t deter pickers. In fact, we’ll be giving them more of what they want in fewer days. Wish someone would make MY job that much easier!

      1. How about doing away with the idiotic can/bottle deposit laws? There’s nowhere to redeem in the North End, so of course everyone’s recyclables are put out to the curb where pickers tear open garbage bags. Frankly, I wouldn’t bother to return my recyclables even if, say, 7 Eleven were required to accept them, but eliminating the deposit would remove the pickers’ incentive.

        Why not instead mandate separating out recyclables for city collection and fine those who don’t? It’s shameful to see how many people either don’t bother to separate or put out recyclables on the wrong day. (Friday only, people.)

        1. Highly unlikely the deposit law will go away. Too huge, too impossible. You’re talking about eliminating something that occurs nationwide just for the perceived benefit of such a relatively small number of people. Regardless of what some people might think, there are folks in the world who have no idea that the North End exists – try telling those folks that they can’t return bottles for money just because the small island of the North End can’t solve a relatively simple trash problem. There are numerous excellent suggestions on this page that will for sure yield benefits and improvements. The problem seems to lie more with the unwillingness of some residents to change or accept the fact that we have to make some sacrifices so that things can improve overall. We are spoiled with 3 pickups per week and take it for granted. Everyone wants things to get better but not everyone is willing to accept the sacrifice (which I believe is small to begin with).

          The trash violators are a separate issue. That will always exist as long as people do not take pride in where they live (no matter who they are – lifelong residents, students, out of towners – anyone).

  6. Morning only placement is the answer, 6am-9am it keeps the 3x/week while eliminating the overnight problems of trash pickers (and even less time for the rats to get at it).

    1. I agree with Junior, and for that reason I voted accordingly in the Neighborhood Council survey. Putting out trash the night before it is collected can no longer be allowed. Move trash pick up to 9 a.m. and everyone wins. It is such a common sense solution I am not sure why it hasn’t been implemented.

      I’ve head that the contractor hired by the City to collect the trash is not interested in collecting trash in our neighborhood at 9 a.m., well why don’t we award the contract to someone who is?!?

      1. Great logic. I still say pickup twice a week but what Junior suggests is a drastic improvement over what we have now.

    2. A NEW CONTRACT has to be negotiated with the company who picks up the trash before you change the hours. And the trucks have to come when they are supposed to not before.
      The trash pickers will come in the morning, so that problem will exist as long as there are bottle/can deposits. And the city/state wants to put deposits on WATER BOTTLES and other things now so there will be more for the scavengers.
      Should help with the rats but even those nasty critters might adapt and start coming out in the morning.

  7. Having attended 2 trash meetings hosted by the Beacon Hill Civic Association over the last several months (with North End, Beacon Hill and Chinatown attendees), I will be sure to attend this very important meeting. I am forwarding this post to said meeting attendees. My hope is that we will have a chance at this 10/22/13 City Hall meeting to discuss the results of our Neighborhood Council and Beacon Hill Civic Association’s online trash and recycling surveys, both of which clearly indicated a desire and preference for trash to be placed outside for pick-up the same day as the trash pick-up itself. Please forward this meeting info to anyone you can. Strength in numbers, folks. 🙂

    Thanks, and I hope to see a great North End turnout at the meeting.


    David Marx

    North End Waterfront Neighborhood Council Public Safety Chairman

  8. I agree that Inspectional Services tries really hard, but it’s just a volume and logistics problem – at least in the North End. I also think that cutting the pick up days to 2 and keeping the trash off the streets overnight should offer some improvement, As some folks said in earlier posts: we can and should adjust because we are pretty lucky/spoiled having 3-day-a-week pickup. I just wish we had a way of effectively dealing with the “I don’t give a sh*t about anyone else” element….

  9. what you all don’t want to understand is that no matterr how many pickups, or what times the trash is supposed to be put out, if no one enforces the rules nothing will change. some people just do not give a #$%&. if inspectional services is doing such a good job then why do we still have the problem. sure they may give a few tickets, but why not start evicting these slobs. is there any way to put a plan like that in place. i, as a landlord will not rent to students. i live in the building i was born and raised in. it sickens me every time i walk the streets. no matter what street it is there is trash/litter. i hope to see a clean north end in my lifetime, but i’m not too hopefull. again, some people just don’t care. i see people walk out of their building after the trucks go by and put their trash in front of someone elses building. just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

    1. Correct – there will always be violators. But I believe the more frequent pickups result in more frequent violations. I totally agree, lack of enforcement makes violations more frequent as well. We need more landlords like you that care.

      I’ve found inspectional services to be pretty responsive when I have reported violations – but that’s the key, we simply need residents to report it (as i’m sure you have, mc). Still, I feel your pain and frustration with the litter – it does seem endless.

  10. The bottom line is, if you don’t fine & enforce laws, this will always be a continuous problem.

    People only get away with what you allow them to get away with, like it or not.

    If we had trash & recycling 7 days a week, you will always find those that put the trash out after
    the trash pick-up, why, because there are no cameras and no enforcement or fines.

    This is not rocket science, people have to be responsible for their actions, and that has not been
    taking place.

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