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The Problem with Overflowing Garbage: An Important Piece of the Life Cycle of Waste

The Problem with Overflowing Garbage: An Important Piece of the Life Cycle of Waste


Reduce Reuse Recycle 

One mantra among many aimed at protecting our environment from the ever-increasing amount of trash. People around the world are becoming more aware about the environmental impact of trash and other generated waste. It is a rather large and multifaceted topic to address.

Most of the advice out there about reducing individual waste, sometimes referred to as zero-waste, focuses on people creating less non-organic waste by buying and using less single use goods and packaging.

But what if there was another way to help – a way to reduce waste and help the environment that actually has nothing to do with how much waste you create…


The Life Cycle of Waste

First, in order to talk about waste, one must be familiar with the life cycle of trash and waste. The life cycle of waste can be described as the cycle in waste is created: from raw materials to production and so on.

Life Cycle of Waste flowchart


The above graphic is meant to provide one example of the life cycle of waste. This cycle is a simplified version that does not consider every detail about where waste comes from and goes, as it is a very multifaceted topic. Additionally, this version of the cycle is centered on the consumer or individual, but it must be noted that most waste is actually generated from over production and corporations. But there are still actions you can take as an individual to improve this cycle.


Another Way to Reduce Waste!

The general advice out there is to reduce the amount of non-organic waste you produce by limiting buying and consumption or switching to more sustainable products. While this is one way for an individual to make a positive impact on the life cycle of waste, it is not the only way. There is another way to reduce waste and protect our environment that goes beyond an individual reducing use or consumption!

Have you ever walked down a street on trash pickup day, walked around a parking lot at a shopping center, or through a busy park? If so, then it is very likely that you have seen an abundance of trash in your life. From little bins at the park, residential roller bins, to commercial sized dumpsters, there are a lot of receptacles and bins we use to collect waste. And a lot of the time this is not the only place where you see the trash; the trash is overflowing onto the ground or simply placed around or near the proper receptacles.

So another area where you as an individual can make an impact on the life cycle of waste has to do with how your trash actually gets thrown away – stopping the problem of overflowing garbage bins. Overflowing garbage bins is just one problem that arises along the life cycle of waste with some easy solutions. 

  Dumpsters with open lids and overflowing garbage


Why are overflowing garbage bins bad for the environment?

There are many negative environmental and health affects of overflowing garbage bins.

Overflowing garbage on the streets becomes home to bacteria and diseases that can be spread by the insects, rodents, and animals that it attracts.

Overflowing waste can also impact air quality which cause various respiratory issues for people from the odors and potential toxins released. Additionally, the decay of organic waste lets off methane which contributes to the greenhouse effect. Therefore it is also important to compost organic waste instead of throwing it away in the first place.

Overflowing waste also gets into our water system contaminating surface waters and threatening all ecosystems. When garbage is left on the ground outside of bins it can be carried away by rain or other elements and end up in our water systems and oceans. We are already experiencing the negative affects of this as we see our ocean suffocating from plastic and other trash that ends up there. It is important to note that most water pollution does not come from overflowing garbage bins but from businesses, corporations, and production. But it is still important to make an impact where you can as an individual.

Additionally, most people would say that overflowing garbage diminishes the quality of life in living environments as neighborhoods are seen as gross or dirty. It can improve your quality of life to live in an environment that is clean and where trash is not building up on the streets.

These are just some of the common impacts that overflowing garbage bins and dumpsters have on our environment.


How garbage overflow happens and some practical solutions:

One reason that garbage bin overflow happens is that there are not enough receptacles and bins to handle the flow of waste for that area. This could be seen at a park, restaurant, sporting field, or apartment complex for example. If there is constantly trash being left outside of the bins or falling out of them due to over filling then there are not enough bins or the bins are not being emptied often enough. This can be solved by ordering more trash cans or dumpsters either online or directly from your waste hauler and by scheduling your staff or waste hauler to pick up the trash more often.

Another reason is convenience. Unfortunately, if you want people to do the right thing then you have to make it easy and convenient for them. This means that trash receptacles must be in convenient locations and in enough locations. And not everyone wants to actively think about what they are throwing away. If you want the trash properly sorted then it is helpful to have easy to follow labels directing people on what to sort between landfill, recycle, and compost. Without labels even more people will take the convenient option of throwing everything into the trash because it is what is most familiar and convenient.

For dumpsters, the inconvenience lies in its use. Dumpsters can be very tall and have heavy lids. If people can not reach the lid to open it or are not able to lift the lid while holding trash, most often their items will get left next to the dumpster in hopes that someone else will deal with it. Luckily Kleen Opener aims to make dumpster use safer, more convenient, and effortless by allowing users to easily open and close dumpster lids. You can get Kleen Opener here or check out our Dumpster Safety 101 blog for more tips on how to make dumpster use more convenient.


It can definitely be overwhelming to think about all of the ways that our Earth is impacted by the actions we take. Just know that most of the direct impact on our environment is not an individual responsibility but something more complex that involves greater policy change. And while this may be true, it is still important to make personal shifts to help if you can. Hopefully now you are more aware about one tiny piece of the puzzle – the problem of overflowing bins – and can be more conscious of ways that you can be more intentional about how you throw away the waste that you do produce. Adding this knowledge to the other things you may do personally to help the environment will make an even greater impact.



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