Baltimore City Paper

Clearing up a few things about the city's new trash cans

Next year every household in the city will receive a brand-spanking-new Schaefer Systems International trash can, whose sealing lid and 64-gallon capacity will help control the city's notorious rat problem and keep streets cleaner.

As this report in the Baltimore Brew notes, "A pilot program of 11,000 municipally-owned carts distributed in the Mondawmin area and Belair-Edison last year has been credited by the mayor with reducing citizen calls for rat exterminations by 75 percent."

Oh, there's this parenthetical: "(That number was amended to 26% by the Department of Public Works after The Brew questioned inconsistencies between the percentage cited and the recorded number of citizen calls in the two neighborhoods.)"

Watch this beautiful baby in action in this YouTube video below.

The city is paying $8.94 million to bring these trash cans to town, but the Brew raises some questions about other expenditures related to their use. Equipping Baltimore garbage trucks with the lifting system for the cans will cost at least $400,000, the story notes, and there's no "definitive answer about whether households will have to pay a fee for the new carts."

Jeffrey Raymond, chief of communications and community affairs for the Department of Public Works, is pretty clear on this front.

"There are no plans to add a fee in connection with this service. Period," he writes in an email.

Though the Brew rightly notes Mayor Rawlings-Blake's 10-year plan calls for "a 'solid waste enterprise fund' financed separately from the city’s general fund."

Sixty-five trucks will need to be outfitted with equipment to lift and tip the cans, at a cost of $8,000 per truck, Raymond writes. DPW hopes to eventually have 99 trucks with the equipment.

The cost of equipping the initial 65 works out to $520,000.

"But remember that some trucks already have these lifters because they needed the equipment to serve the customers in the pilot program," he writes.

"Again, all this has been budgeted."

DPW will begin distributing the Schaefer cans early next year; it will take several months for every house to get one.

"With durable, lidded cans at every house there will be less trash left exposed and less food and shelter for rodents," Raymond writes. "Cities across the country have found municipal trash cans to be effective in driving down grime."

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is City Paper's web editor. When not writing and editing blogs about breaking news, Baltimore arts, or anything interesting that comes across his desk, he's covering music and culture for the paper or writing his columns on sports, The Undercard, and fast food, Fast Foodie. Before joining City Paper full-time in 2012, Weigel was an editorial aide for The Washington Post's Going Out Guide, where he wrote articles on music and D.C. culture. His work has also appeared in USA Today, SPIN, The Sun, Chicago Reader, Urbanite, and the Baltimore Business Journal.