Young city rat searching for food in an outdoor cafe trash bin

Contributed by Orkin, LLC.

With a constant daily flow of foot traffic in and out of your property, the likelihood for unsanitary conditions to develop is high. These conditions can attract pests, and if left untreated can lead to issues in other areas of your property as well.

No matter the property, effective garbage disposal and management is key to lowering your chance of a pest introduction. And while garbage areas inside and around your property aren’t exactly an ideal hangout for humans, they can provide everything pests need to thrive, including food, water and shelter.

Conducive Conditions

The decaying matter in trash bins can serve as a pest’s next meal – or even their home. Cockroaches feed on dead or decomposing organic matter, while wasps seek out meat, fish and sugary substances. Rodents like to dine on garbage, discerning bitter, salty, sour and sweet flavors in their food.

When waste bins and dumpsters are not properly cleaned or closed, pests can get inside and take advantage of the overflow of food. Furthermore, if your dumpster or compactor is not leak-proof, fluids drip underneath and provide breeding grounds for flies and other insects.

Consequences of a Pest Infestation

With so many potential unwanted visitors waiting to make their home in your waste disposal zones, it’s important to implement proper waste management procedures ahead of their arrival. The following pests are just a few of the ones likely to dive into your property’s trash bins.

Cockroaches live in warm, dark, enclosed areas, and can spread diseases that cause food poisoning and dysentery. Their feces, cast skins and saliva can also cause allergic reactions in some sensitive individuals.

Flies pick up and spread germs as they move from one pile of trash to the next, or on other surfaces. When they land, flies regurgitate, quickly spreading these harmful germs. They can be difficult to control because they make dumpsters and trash cans their breeding grounds. Additionally, they rest and defecate on walls near trash compactors, creating aesthetically displeasing fly spots.

Rodents contaminate products through their urine, hair, feces and saliva. They chew through just about anything and can cause structural damage as they gnaw on electrical wires, gas lines, support beams and even asphalt.

Wasps may not contaminate products, but they can pose a threat to the safety of building occupants and visitors. Capable of stinging multiple times, wasps can cause painful and sometimes severe reactions in people.

What You Can Do

To help remedy pest problems – and avoid sanitation failures – there are a few procedures your janitorial and maintenance staff can implement. If you haven’t already, be sure to incorporate these best practices into their routines.

Indoor Waste Management
1.    Choose a single trash bin for all food wrappers and leftover scraps. To prevent edible residues from accumulating, use plastic liners and periodically clean the lid.

2.    Rinse empty food containers thoroughly before putting them in a garbage can or recycling bin.

3.    Consider storing food waste in a freezer until you can dispose of it. As long as the scraps remain frozen, they won’t produce bad odors that can attract pests.

4.    Take out the trash regularly. If you use small wastebaskets and garbage bags, try to empty them before they develop strong odors.

5.    Keep the trash in a dumpster or metal garbage can with a tight lid. Large rodents can easily chew through thick plastic containers.

6.    Remove waste and sanitize disposal units frequently. Clean waste units often using a degreasing agent and high-water pressure to remove any leftover food debris.

7.    If working with a contractor, make sure you are communicating about and documenting how often the units are emptied and being cleaned. Waste removal frequency is very important as well. Weekly removal helps to eliminate odors, overflow and prevent pest attraction.

8.    Talk with a pest management professional about odor-neutralizing products. Instead of masking the problem, these products can eradicate pest-attracting odors at the source, including trash chutes, garbage rooms and dumpsters.

In addition to waste management inside your facility, pests are also commonly seen gathering around your outdoor waste disposal zone. Waste disposal zones for any property are also a main source of disease-causing pathogens, which pests can pick up and transmit to humans. The unsanitary conditions can attract harmful or undesirable pests that can put staff, guests, tenants and potential customers at risk and drive away business.

There are many pests waiting to invade your waste disposal zone, so it’s important to implement proper waste management procedures before they even try. Here are 10 outdoor waste management tips to prevent these pests from ever becoming a problem.

Outdoor Waste Management
1.    After placing bags of refuse in a dumpster, always shut the lid immediately. Be sure to repair any holes or cracks in your trash bins.

2.    Leave all trash chutes and outdoor trash cans closed. An open waste disposal unit is an enticing proposition for a host of pests large and small. That’s why it’s best to make sure units are sealed as tight as possible. You may also want to invest in large capacity containers with latching lids and side doors.

3.    Avoid placing outdoor trash receptacles near your building. Don’t put them immediately next to a window, door, vent or other pest entryway.

4.    Transport waste to a landfill before it smells strongly or the outdoor containers overflow. If your dumpster frequently becomes full, obtain a larger unit.

5.    Move dumpsters as far away from buildings and outdoor communal spaces as possible and locate on a concrete pad. The closer these disposal units are to large concentrations of people, the more likely that pests will arrive and disturb your guests or employees. Plus, if pests do become an issue, they can be more easily contained in an isolated area away from your facility. The concrete pad will prevent leaking and seepage underneath, which can become a major breeding ground for flies.

6.    Check on the disposal zone daily. While inspecting, ensure that the area around dumpsters, trash cans or chutes contains no trash or discarded foods. It’s important to keep all waste within closed units. Also, make sure there is no standing water pooling in the area.

7.    Install insect light traps and rodent monitoring stations. This will help you to monitor the area for pests and help keep them from spreading. The more you know about which pests are invading your disposal area, the better the decisions you can make about how to eliminate them.

8.    Remove waste and sanitize disposal units frequently. Clean waste units often using a degreasing agent and high-water pressure to remove any leftover food debris.

9.    Remove waste weekly to help eliminate odors, overflow and prevent pest attraction.

10.    If working with a contractor, make sure you are communicating about and documenting how often the units are emptied and being cleaned.

Garbage collection and location is critical to a successful IPM program because if anyone loves the smell of rotting garbage – a pest does. For all of these reasons, make sure to establish and maintain best practices in your sanitation efforts. Follow the tips above to ensure that they stay where they belong—away from your business and out of sight.

Glen Ramsey is Technical Services Manager for Orkin. He is a board-certified entomologist and provides technical support and guidance across all Rollins brands in the areas of training and education, operations, and marketing. For more information, email or visit