Update on the Safeway Dumpster

To some of you, that post title won't mean much. To others, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For most of the seven years I've lived on E St next door to the Safeway, I've been frustrated by Safeway's external compacting dumpster, which frequently becomes the trash management equivalent of the corpse flower. Particularly during the summer, trash in the dumpster decays and often leaks foul-smelling liquid out onto the Safeway parking lot. The problem gets worse in the summer, and hot days are the worst. In comparison, I've never had an issue with the trash hauling company that's literally across the street.

14th Street Safeway Dumpster, image from Google Maps

14th Street Safeway Dumpster, image from Google Maps

Some of our neighbors have submitted requests and complaints to DC 311, and if you observe any future issues, please continue to do so. This spring I decided to take a different approach, and I wrote a letter to Safeway, expressing concern about the dumpster and asking that the store develop a plan to mitigate the problem.

This week I spoke with Safeway's store manager, Matthew Schmitt, who took over at the 14th Street Safeway about two months ago. I also received a call from Safeway's regional maintenance office. Mr. Schmitt walked me through the steps he's taking to mitigate the odor and leakage problems:

  • The store has recently started separating compostable waste, which is picked up from the store. This should reduce the flow of decaying matter into the dumpster.
  • They are pursuing options to use deodorizing additives in the dumpster, which should be started in the next week. 
  • Mr. Schmitt has assured me that staff do not put milk in the dumpster.
  • Mr. Schmitt has put in a request to re-level the parking lot, to prevent any liquid from the dumpster from pooling. The maintenance office confirmed that Safeway is planning a larger project to update their parking lot.
  • Mr. Schmitt has put in a request to have the dumpster pulled and cleaned, and he will do this more frequently going forward.

The conversation I had with Matt Schmitt was good, and I appreciate that he and other Safeway managers are taking this issue seriously. He invited me to let him know if I observe further problems with the dumpster, and I encourage you all to let me know if you see (smell) anything. I'm hopeful that we're at an olfactory turning point, but I will continue to push on this issue in the coming months.