Problems with your new garbage can in Des Plaines? You're not alone, officials say

If you live in Des Plaines and have been having problems with your new rolling garbage cans, you're not alone.

The large, blue cans arrived in February when Morton Grove-based Lakeshore Recycling Systems replaced an Arizona-based firm called Republic Services as the city's exclusive garbage contractor. Some 33,000 cans were delivered to about 16,500 customers.

Since then, some homeowners have said their cans' hinged lids blow open when it's windy, allowing trash to scatter and scavenging animals to get inside. Others have complained about cans toppling over or being blown into the street.

"Two Mondays ago (we) had to dodge about five neighbors' garbage cans that had blown into the street," resident Kathy Horton said. "This is not something we normally have to deal with."

Detached wheels have been a problem for some customers, too.

City officials have spoken with Lakeshore representatives about the complaints. City Manager Mike Bartholomew said the recent windy weather and differences in how the two company's cans are manufactured likely contributed to the tipping problems.

Josh Connell, a managing partner with Lakeshore, said the problem may just be one of timing and perception, as the new carts arrived during a particularly windy month.

They also arrived at some homes later than planned because of the crippling winter storm in Texas, where the cans are mostly assembled, he said.

And any loose wheels likely weren't snapped on properly by Lakeshore employees, an error that can be easily rectified, he said.

"This isn't an inferior product," Connell said. "I think this will die down in a few weeks."

The city council inked a seven-year deal with Lakeshore in December.

Residents were provided 95-gallon bins for most garbage and 65-gallon bins for recycling - just as they had when Republic handled garbage service. A 35-gallon can may be substituted by request.

Lakeshore's cans are made differently than Republic's, Bartholomew said. They're lighter, so they're easier to move, and they're more pliable than the old cans to prevent breakage, he said.

Some residents are unhappy with the change, saying the new cans blow open or blow away more easily.

"The (Republic) cans were very sturdy and heavy," resident Karla Jacobson said. "The old cans didn't blow over like these."

Connell confirmed the newer carts are lighter and more flexible than older models. But "a few pounds" of plastic or metal aren't going to make a difference when it comes to withstanding a strong wind, he said.

As for the wheels, Lakeshore drivers affix them to the carts when they're delivered to customers. Customers can reattach them by pushing them onto axles until they click, Connell said.

Or, he said, they can call Lakeshore to handle it.

Connell believes the number of happy customers in Des Plaines exceeds those who've experienced problems with the new cans. But Lakeshore isn't dismissing the complaints.

All Lakeshore customers in Des Plaines will receive a credit for one week of service on their first bill, regardless of whether they experienced problems.

"We'll make sure that the residents of Des Plaines are happy going forward," Connell said.

To report a problem with garbage service, call Lakeshore at (844) 633-3577 or the city's public works department at (847) 391-5464.

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Lakeshore Recycling Systems workers deliver garbage cans to new customers in Des Plaines in February. Courtesy of Des Plaines
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