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Waste management tips for avoiding unwanted pests

How to keep your facility free of critters this summer
Thursday, June 21, 2018
By Dr Alice Sinia

Summer is fast-approaching, which means annoying pests will soon be out in full force. These buzzing, whirring and stinging creatures can become a big nuisance for your facility if left unchecked, and one of their favourite places to gather is a spot you may not often think about—the waste disposal zone.

While this area of a facility isn’t exactly an ideal hangout for humans, it can provide everything pests need to thrive, including warmth, food, water and shelter. Waste disposal zones are also a main source of disease-causing pathogens, which pests can pick up and readily transmit to humans. The unsanitary conditions can attract harmful or undesirable pests that can put staff, guests, tenants and potential customers at risk and drive away business.

Some of these pests include cockroaches, which can spread germs such as coliform, staphylococcus and streptococcus; flies, capable of carrying and transmitting more than 100 pathogens, including Salmonella and E. Coli; wasps, scavengers by nature that are drawn to garbage cans to find meat and sugary foods; and rodents, which can transmit multiple diseases (or dangerous parasites) and find their way indoors through holes as small as a dime. Waste zones are also known to attract birds, raccoons and skunks.

With so many possible intruders waiting to make their home in your waste disposal zone, it’s crucial to implement proper waste management procedures ahead of their arrival.

Here are six waste management tips to prevent these pests from ever becoming a problem:

  1. Move dumpsters as far away from buildings and outdoor communal spaces as possible and locate on a concrete pad

    The closer these disposal units are to large concentrations of people, the more likely that pests will arrive and disturb your guests or employees. Plus, if pests do become an issue, they can be more easily contained in an isolated area away from your facility. The concrete pad will prevent leaking and seepage underneath, which can become a major breeding ground for flies.

  1. Leave all trash chutes and outdoor trash cans closed

    An open waste disposal unit is an enticing proposition for a host of pests large and small. That’s why it’s best to make sure units are sealed as tight as possible. You may also wish to invest in large capacity containers with latching lids and side doors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a trash can is rodent-proof only if there is less than six millimetres between the container and the lid.

  1. Check on the disposal zone daily

    While inspecting, ensure that the area around dumpsters, trash cans or chutes contains no trash or discarded foods. It’s important to keep all waste within closed units. Make sure there is no standing water pooling in the area.

  1. Remove waste and sanitize disposal units on a frequent basis

    Clean units often using a decreasing agent and high water pressure to remove any leftovers that could attract pests. If working with a contractor, make sure you are communicating about and documenting how often the units are emptied and being cleaned. Waste removal frequency is very important as well. Weekly removal helps to eliminate odours, overflow and prevent pest attraction.

  1. Install insect light traps and rodent monitoring stations

    This will help you to surveil the area for pests and help keep them from spreading. The more you know about which pests are invading your disposal area, the better the decisions you can make about how to eliminate them.

  1. Talk with a pest management professional about odour-neutralizing products

    Instead of masking the problem, these products can eradicate pest-attracting odours at the source, including trash chutes, garbage rooms and dumpsters. Smell is a powerful attractant that can have your disposal units full of pests quickly and without warning if left unchecked.

When it comes to preventing pest infestations, especially during the hot summer months, the best approach is a proactive one. Follow the tips above to help ensure that cockroaches, flies, wasps, rodents and other pests stay where they belong—away from your property and out of sight.

Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 20 years of experience, she manages the Quality Assurance Laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email Alice Sinia at or visit

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