Western Brooklyn

Is Residential Dumping Really To Blame For 86th Street’s Garbage Problem?



When it comes to the local litter problem, the Sanitation Department and area leaders frequently point their fingers at neighbors who illegally dump their household garbage in public baskets.

It’s an easy out: often the targets are immigrants with little-to-no grasp of English, and their transgressions can be explained, if not forgiven, by unintended ignorance of the law. And it lets scofflaw businesses and the Sanitation Department off the hook.

But a walk down 86th Street suggest otherwise. Overflowing trash cans were seen last Thursday on every single stretch of 86th Street under the el. Most of them had been opened up and the trash can pulled out to allow for more garbage to be piled on – and to let it blow away in the wind. And a glimpse inside the can above, found at the Bay Parkway intersection, revealed nothing more than newspapers, shopping bags with leftover foodstuffs, wrappers – the kind of thing any pedestrian might toss into the bin as they walk along. There was nothing nefarious, like household garbage here, and yet the bin was still overflowing – signaling a failure of the Department of Sanitation to make sufficient pickups.

Meanwhile, at the 20th Avenue intersection, this…


That ain’t household trash. And it isn’t likely something from the McDonald’s at that location. Even if it was, our early afternoon visit would’ve been far too early to have commercial trash out for a private pickup. And that machinery, judging from the bits of litter wedged into crevices, had been there for a few days at least.

That’s not to say household trash isn’t a problem, especially on other streets like 18th Avenue, where the telltale sign of red bags stacked high next to public baskets is a common sight. But on 86th Street, lawmakers should be looking at local businesses to maintain their properties, the Sanitation Department to increase pickups, and to find the scoundrels who use one of our busiest thoroughfares as a free-for-all dumping ground.

Comment policy


  1. Not to mention (again) the car owners whose last act before pulling away from the curb is to toss out their trash.

    Kudos to both McDonald’s and also Starbucks, whose employees can be frequently seen cleaning up in front of their shops!

  2. On the Saturday of July 4th weekend I stopped at a convenience store on Avenue X near West 3rd Street and the garbage pail was flowing out onto the street. When I came out of the store sanitation was there and since I had to wait for them to clean up the mess because they blocked my car I took the time to vent about this. They also said that this was residential garbage and I thought, B.S. They then proceeded to tell me that if I thought that was bad I should see Avenue U. They then proceeded to go to Avenue X and McDonald Ave where there was another mess. This is now quickly becoming a health problem. Our elected officials need to step in to get this problem resolved.

  3. “Immigrants with little to no grasp of english” “transgressions, can be explained, if not forgiven”….come on. Immigrants of the past received counsel from their countrymen who arrived here earlier about the rules, laws, and mores in their new homeland. Let’s stop making excuses. I am so tired of hearing excuses. Whether Bensonhurst is a pigsty because of businesses or those dumping their household garbage in public litter baskets, both are real issues here that no one is dealing with.

  4. Come on folks! It’s a combination of both commercial AND residential!
    I have witnessed residents throwing out their trash in public trash cans along 18th Avenue, 17th Avenue and New Utrecht Avenue repeatedly just walking to the 79th street train station.
    While I’m not going to say it’s JUST residential, or “immigrants”, etc, the facts are the facts, there is definitely MORE residential trash being thrown out “on the corner” every morning.
    To say otherwise is just wrong.

  5. With twice a week trash pick up why is anyone throwing their trash into the street garbage bins?

  6. Because some immigrants have huge families and twice a week garbage pickup is not nearly enough.

  7. That’s why we have laws about how many people can live inside a single dwelling. It becomes a sanitation issue.

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