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Don’t Let Your Trash Become a Free Meal for Pests

By Win Higgins, Entomologist and Quality Assurance Manager, Western Pest Services

You’ve heard the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well, if not managed properly, trash can also be a gold mine for pests.

Pests are looking for the same things we are: food, shelter and water, and trash can provide just that. For foodservice establishments, this is extremely troubling.

A more recent trend that also affects pest management is composting, which is becoming increasingly popular for businesses looking for a more environmentally conscience waste management option. While composting helps restaurants reduce their waste output to landfills, many restaurants fear that the decomposing food will attract pests, particularly rats.

To keep your trash or compost from attracting pests, try the following:

Minimize Odors and Food Sources

The odors emitted by waste are one of the top attractors for pests. To restrict odors, make sure trash cans are tightly sealed and lined. Empty trash cans at least daily, if not more frequently.

Similar rules apply for composting. Make sure your container has a tightly fitted lid that can contain odors and block entry for pests. Plastic compost bins go much further in blocking out pests than plastic bags.

Wash down trash cans and compost bins regularly to help prevent any lingering food debris that may serve as a food source for pests and rinse out recyclable materials, such as soda cans and plastic jugs, before disposing of them.

Schedule Regular Pick-ups

Schedule frequent and regular garbage and compost pick-ups with a reliable waste management company to avoid overflow or breeding grounds for pests.

Flies, for example, feed on garbage and often lay their eggs in moist piles of trash. They also reproduce very quickly – development from egg to adult can be as few as 6 days, with 10-12 generations per summer. If garbage sits for two weeks without pick-up, you can potentially go through multiple generations of flies, all capable of transmitting diseases if they find a way into your restaurant.

Maintain Dumpsters

Many restaurants have outdoor waste management areas with large dumpsters. Overflowing or poorly sanitized dumpsters are often crawling with pests. Remember, if pests are attracted to your dumpster, it brings them that much closer to your building. And the closer they get, the more likely they are to find a way inside.

To ward off pests, keep dumpsters as far away from the buildings as possible and have them rotated and cleaned regularly. Don’t forget to sanitize the area underneath the dumpster as well.

Make sure all dumpsters have lids that are kept closed and do not allow garbage buildup in the area surrounding the dumpster. Keep in mind that if you have frequent pick-ups and you are still experiencing overflow, it’s likely that your dumpster is too small.

To be sure your waste management routine is not attracting pests, follow these steps and work with a pest management professional to ensure you are doing everything you can.

Win Higgins in an entomologist and Quality Assurance Manager for Western Pest Services, a New-Jersey based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.