Western Brooklyn

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

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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…

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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.

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