Why Didn’t My Trash Get Picked Up?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Paul Vasarhelyi

It’s a relief when sanitation workers pick up your trash each week. You no longer have that smelly garbage at your house, and it gives you a fresh start for the week. That doesn’t always happen, however. So, why didn’t my trash get picked up?

Check your garbage can to make sure it’s within 2-3 feet of the street if your trash didn’t get picked up. They also won’t pick up your trash if something, like a vehicle, is blocking the can. Sanitation workers cannot pick up trash that contains hazardous materials and bulk items unless it’s scheduled ahead of time.

Otherwise, they may have simply missed your trash can because of a simple mistake. Holidays and poor weather also prevent sanitation workers from collecting trash. Follow along as we explore why your trash didn’t get picked up.

Why Didn’t They Pick Up My Trash?

1. Inclement Weather

Garbage collection services in some cases will understandably delay collection because of inclement weather. This is especially common in areas with harsh weather during the winter. Icy roads are dangerous for garbage trucks, so they often delay collection by at least one day during extreme winter weather.

Trash collection services typically notify people about weather delays via text, email, or phone calls. Of course, you can still put your trash can outside, but it will sit there for an extra day.

2. It’s A Holiday

Trash collection services adjust their schedules for holidays. They won’t pick up your trash on national holidays. Holidays throw off the schedule by a day in most cases, so they won’t collect your trash on the usual day.

Check your calendar if you’re confused as to why your trash didn’t get picked up. This is the most common reason why your trash didn’t get picked up, and you must simply wait a day.

3. The Can Was Obstructed

Sanitation workers cannot collect your trash if the can is obstructed. For example, your trash won’t get picked up if a car is blocking your trash can. This can also happen if the trash can is in the wrong spot or it’s blocked by random objects, like bicycles.

They will understandably only pick up your trash if it’s easy to access. Even an overgrown lawn or unsafe path to your garbage can prevents them from collecting your trash. The trash can must be unobstructed and within 2-3 feet of the road, so it’s easy for them to access.

4. You Weren’t On Time

Did you forget to put your garbage cans outside on time? It’s easy to forget to put your trash out if you’ve had a long day. However, sanitation workers adhere to a tight schedule, so it’s important to be punctual when you put your trash outside.

It’s important to reach out to your local sanitation department to figure out what time you must put the can outside. You can also likely find this information online, and it varies between municipalities.

5. You Aren’t Compliant

You can only count on sanitation workers to pick up your trash if you comply with the rules. Sanitation services have strict rules about what they will pick up. For example, you can’t simply put bulk items out and expect them to pick them up.

You must instead call the service and schedule collection for bulk items. They typically pick up bulk items within 2-3 days of the phone call. However, you can’t renovate your house and leave a bunch of old drywall on the curb and expect them to pick it up.

Never put hazardous materials in your trash can. Not only is it dangerous and bad for the environment, but they won’t pick up your trash. Avoid putting old electronics, batteries, light bulbs, paint, and caustic chemicals in your trash can.

6. The Truck Broke Down

Garbage trucks may be huge and durable, but they’re still susceptible to problems. They can break down just like any other vehicle, and this can disrupt the trash collection schedule. Sanitation departments have many garbage trucks, but they’re typically all on different routes.

That’s why they may not have another truck to spare and send on your route in some cases. Instead, they will dispatch a mechanic to diagnose the problem and repair the truck. This can happen quickly and they may still be able to pick up your garbage. However, it may mean that they won’t pick up your trash until the following day.

7. It Was A Mistake

Sanitation workers wake up early, work long hours, and sometimes make mistakes like anyone else. They may have simply missed your trash can and moved on to the next house. This is inconvenient, but it’s often easy to fix.

For example, you can call the local sanitation department and let them know what happened. They may dispatch a nearby truck to pick up your trash, but it depends on the circumstances. However, you may unfortunately have to wait until the following week before they pick up your trash.

8. You’re Behind On Bills

Trash collection isn’t free, and the sanitation service counts on you to pay your bills on time. It’s a monthly flat rate that you typically pay directly to the collection service. Landlords sometimes handle this for their tenants, but it depends.

In that case, you must reach out to your landlord to ask if they have paid the sanitation bill. Otherwise, it’s your responsibility in most cities and states. It helps to set up automatic payments so you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay the bill on time.

What To Do If Your Garbage Didn’t Get Picked Up

Call the sanitation company if they haven’t picked up your garbage today. However, it’s a good idea to double-check the calendar to make sure it’s not a holiday. It’s also a good idea to check your garbage can and make sure that it is accessible.

Prepare yourself for the fact that they may tell you that they couldn’t pick up your trash because you weren’t compliant. In that case, you can take the opportunity to learn from the mistake and follow the rules more closely.

Summing It Up

Sanitation workers won’t pick up your trash if it’s too far from the street or is obstructed. They also don’t collect trash on national holidays and days with extreme, dangerous weather. Otherwise, they won’t pick up your trash if it contains hazardous waste or if you didn’t pay the bill that month.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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