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Restaurant trash piling up: How Manassas is working with businesses to streamline garbage collection

MANASSAS — Trash is piling up outside restaurants in Downtown Manassas.

The city not only wants to do something about it, but they also want to make it easier for the restauranteur to have someone come multiple times per week to haul away the garbage.

There is a lack of large trash dumpsters in downtown — this older section of town wasn’t built with dumpsters in mind. 

This has forced small shop and restaurant owners to use small, rollaway trash toters. Some businesses, especially restaurants, produce more trash than others.

“The volume of waste a restaurant generates: 10 pounds of trash per hour, and on a busy night it’s more than that,” said Manassas Refuse and Recycling Coordinator Monica Boehringer.

All businesses in Manassas pay a trash collection service fee, and American Disposal Services, the company the city contracts with to provide trash service, collects the garbage twice a week. But for some restaurants, that wasn’t enough. Many choose to pay for additional trash collection, multiple times per week.

In some cases, restaurants pay multiple trash haulers to make sure the trash is hauled away.

The City Council on Monday approved the changes to the city’s solid waste code that allow Boehringer and staff to work with city businesses to not only consolidate their trash collection services — think of it as having your cable TV, phone, and internet all one bill — but to also help customize a trash plan that works best for the business.

“If the business is happy with service, can keep that service. But if not, we’re working with Amercian Disposal to come up with new rates that businesses can take advantage of, so their trash collection service is streamlined,” said Boehringer.

Those rates are still being worked out and could be finalized by spring. In the end, the costs probably won’t change that much. Customers with twice a week collection won’t see a change in rates, and those who have city collection and pay for additional collection service should pay about the same, but they would now have the option of paying it all on one bill.

Boehringer also wants to help business owners join the ranks of city residents who are recycling more. She says putting dumpsters for cardboard only behind Mackie’s Pub, and behind the Harris Pavilion has helped increase the rate of recycling for the city.

“When I got there three years ago, those dumpsters were hard to get to and were being serviced once a month. We moved them, serviced them three times a week, and we saw a big change,” said Boehringer.

It proves a point: If you make it easy, accessible, and haul away the cardboard, people will use it. She hopes to duplicate efforts like these in the coming years throughout the city.

The revised code also addresses large furniture left on curbsides after people move out of their homes and apartment buildings. Last year, taxpayers were charged more than $8,500 over the past year by American Disposal to come out to collect couches, armchairs, and other large pieces of furniture.

Now the city can issue a fine to a landlord if these large pieces of waste aren’t removed within 24 hours. Under the old rules, the landlord had 10 days to throw out the trash.

Boehringer urges those who are moving to plan ahead and call a trash removal service or to rent a dumpster for their unwanted furniture or call her office well in advance of moving day for help.

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