Are there any cities/areas where waste bins are purposefully absent?
March 30, 2018 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I remember reading somewhere that in some parks in New Zealand (and this might be my mind playing tricks on me) there are no waste bins to be found because "if you generate waste they want you to take your waste with you".

Also, bins tend to give an implicit permission for people to throw things there, and you sometimes end up with dirtier places because of the bins.

Do I remember this correctly? Are there places in the world with this kind of policy?
posted by edmz to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think most places where a deliberate choice has been made not to offer garbage cans do so out of security concerns, as the IRA did like to plant bombs in them back in the day. Bomb-resistant cans have since been developed but I don't know if they're considered adequate everywhere.

Of course, actual wild nature areas won't have garbage cans because they're not your backyard!
posted by praemunire at 10:01 AM on March 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

A lot of campgrounds, especially remote ones, have pack in/pack out policies and do not have trash bins. This works for the most part except for when people are determined to not pack out their trash and they just dump it wherever.

Basically if you have trash bin, people will use it. If you don't, most decent people will not litter.

I often canoe camp on a lake in Quebec where they have trash bins but never seem to empty them, so the camp sites tend to look worse than if they didn't have any trash bins at all.
posted by bondcliff at 10:02 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

That’s a very common situation and attitude in Japanese cities, compounded by the fact that waste is usually separated into four or five different recycling categories at the time of disposal, so where there are public waste bins (e.g., in malls or convenience stores), you need to have a bunch of different bins out for different types of waste.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:04 AM on March 30, 2018 [6 favorites]

They tried that in a few NYC subway stations, and it failed miserably. People just littered instead.

My understanding is that what works in cities is to have a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, clearly-designated place for trash so that people won't get creative and cause more problems. Outside an urban area, I don't know what you would do.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:06 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @strangely

That’s a very common situation and attitude in Japanese cities
Is it a government policy? Or is it cultural?
posted by edmz at 10:11 AM on March 30, 2018

Both? I mean, it’s local governments who control the public bin placement, but the whole thing would break down if there weren’t such a strong cultural taboo against littering in Japan.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:16 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can say that my alma mater sometimes has "no waste" events where they do not provide trash cans but do have various bins for sorting your recycling vs. landfill.

(Note: this was fun the time I got food poisoning and ended up throwing up in a recycling bin because there was NO trash can or unlocked bathroom to be found and I couldn't wait any longer and it was either there or the ground.)

And there is a "leave no trace" policy at Burning Man because they do want you to take your trash with you. But other than at Black Rock City, I haven't heard of this being a citywide policy thing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:19 AM on March 30, 2018

It's quite common in my province (British Columbia, Canada), to have a waste bin (often bear proof) at the entrance/exit to hiking trails, near the parking lot. You are supposed to pack out what you pack in, but they do provide you with a single place to dispose of your garbage when you leave. That makes it easier for the park workers to just come to the entrances and empty those bins.

I don't tend to see litter on these trails--I suspect because of the cultural norms of people who use them, and the fact that if people do see litter while hiking, they pick it up and bring it out with them.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:55 AM on March 30, 2018

There's no/few bins in the City of London*, and at London stations, for terrorism reasons as praemurie said.

*As in the administrative district that was the historic city, not London as a whole.
posted by Helga-woo at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm fairly certain the Ohio State Parks operate this way, or at least the campground portions.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2018

I haven't paid attention to this recently, but there definitely used to be none around Whitehall or around the Houses of Parliament in London, again because of security concerns.

Per the 'City of London' comment above, see this Londonist article:

"Picture the scene. You've just finished a lovely Snickers and are now on the hunt for a repository in which to responsibly discard of the wrapper. Except you're in the City of London, and there doesn't seem to be a ruddy bin in sight.

Is it just us, or does the City of London have a distinct lack of rubbish bins? We wrote to the City to ask them exactly how many public bins there are.

The answer? 46."

They also say that "since reintroducing some bins, the City has come to realise these can be more trouble than they're worth anyway, a 2010 report concluding: ' general, in the City litter bins can encourage illegal dumping, look unsightly, encourage vermin, impact on recycling tonnages and that placing litter bins City-wide would not improve the situation and could well have a negative impact upon the overall street scene environment.'"
posted by knapah at 12:44 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Public parks, rest stations and campgrounds in Michigan provide tiny trash cans for exactly the reasons you cited in your Ask, and people have gotten in the habit of carrying their trash home with them for the most part.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 1:25 PM on March 30, 2018

"Of course, actual wild nature areas won't have garbage cans because they're not your backyard!"

Sure but whose backyard has a garbage can either?
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:34 PM on March 30, 2018

Best answer: The botanic gardens in South Africa (at least the ones I've been to) have a no bins policy:

e.g. Kirstenbosch is a No Bins Garden, rubbish bins are not present in most parts of the Garden. Visitors are expected to take their refuse with them when they leave the Garden and dispose of it responsibly. This discourages scavengers like rats, and keeps the Garden cleaner.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 2:03 PM on March 30, 2018

Were they talking about National Parks? Because that’s normal etiquette to take your waste home. Many parks in NZ have spots that are isolated, and miles away from huts or campgrounds.

I haven’t been back in years so they might have introduced this policy to city parks recently. But in the NZ cities I lived in there were definitely bins for your chippy paper and empty bottles of L&P at the park.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 2:28 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

PATH train stations (a rapid transit service, much smaller than the Subway, that connects Manhattan to New Jersey) do not have trash cans. They are generally quite clean, certainly compared to Subway stations.
posted by mustardayonnaise at 2:57 PM on March 30, 2018

Best answer: Many, if not most national parks in Australia, especially the more remote ones, have this policy. "Take your rubbish with you" is common on the park signs. Even those with picnic areas, bbq fire pits, wood supplied and toilets, will not have bins.

Bins attract critters who spread the rubbish around and Parks don't have the staff to empty the bins on a regular basis. And, if a bin is there, people will pile their rubbish in; and on and around the bin if it is already full.

As a regular national park visitor, I think parks without bins are cleaner than parks with bins.
posted by Thella at 3:33 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

The apartment buildings on my block had trash bins out in front until very recently and I think it's for this reason. My office building also took individual trash bins out of people's cubes and offices a while back, ditto.
posted by clavicle at 6:23 PM on March 30, 2018

In San Francisco:

To Reduce Ocean Beach Trash, Park Service Removes Garbage Bins

City Took Away 1,000 SF Trash Cans, And Now Returns Many To Mission St.

(And I couldn't quickly find a story about BART, our subway system, but there are no trash bins on the train platforms. I recently saw a poster on BART that admonished riders not to litter, and showed a responsible person chucking their trash in a bin with a BART logo on it. Such bins do not actually exist.)
posted by aws17576 at 10:55 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

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