Dumpster diving for old food, useable items and documents is actually quite common. In fact, finding palatable food in dumpsters is starting to become a regular past-time for penny-pinching and waste conscious citizens. However, as a restaurant, construction site, or department store owner, keeping divers away is in your best interest, as divers can get injured and dumpsters can get damaged from frequent rummaging. Here are some things you can do to help keep dumpster diving at a minimum.
1. Eliminate as much waste as possible.
One of the reasons why people are drawn to going through your trash is because there are things of value being thrown away. A slightly bruised bag of fruit, a gently used mattress, or two-by-fours with nails might be useless for your business, but they are valuable to others. Instead of tossing things of use in the trash, consider the following:
- putting partially spoiled or otherwise un-sellable food in a give-away box next to the dumpster. Anything still left in the box on trash day can be dumped before the truck comes.
- separating construction trash into different dumpsters. Yes, this means you may have to get more than one, but broken drywall and old glue bottles are definitely trash, while pieces of wood and old cabinets might not be. Consider donating these items to an organization like Habitat for Humanity.
- having a sale. In some cases, you might throw things away because you don't know what to do with them all. However, things like empty oil containers, pallets, bricks and rocks and items from abandoned storage units are valuable. Have a multi-business garage sale twice a year and then donate or dump the rest after the sale is over.
You should also be aware that people do not just dive for things to use or eat. They also look for paperwork and shredded paper--this is a common method for identity theft, as discarded documents can have valuable information. If any paper you throw away has information like a SSN, birthdates, or an address, it's best to use a professional shredding company for these, instead of your common dumpster.
2. Keep your trash under lock and key.
If you rent your dumpsters, check for a place to padlock the lid. The there isn't one on your current dumpster, contact the rental company and ask what other dumpster types might be available. If you own your dumpster, or if it is given by the city waste service, building a fence around your dumpster and locking the fence is the next best option. Use chain link fencing with privacy slats, preventing outsiders from seeing the contents of the dumpster. This, of course, means you will need to give the key to an employee and have someone there when the trash is picked up.
3. Make it difficult.
You make it easier for divers when good items are sitting on top, free from the taint of real garbage. If you really want to make your dumpster harder to pick through, use fewer bags (as bags protect good items from the other, nastier dumpster contents) and mix the items you are going to throw away with actual trash, like the trash from the kitchen and bathrooms in your establishment. Since dumpster diving is often learned through practice and word of mouth, your business will gain a reputation for not being worth the trouble, and the divers will move elsewhere.
You can protect your business property from intruders by being more vigilant with proactive dumpster protection measures. For more information on increasing dumpster security, contact your rental company, such as TCM Sweeping and Disposal, or your waste removal service.