Southampton Town officials are looking to put a stop to people disposing of household trash in town-owned garbage cans.
While some municipalities provide garbage pickup, Southampton Town requires that homeowners dispose of their garbage on their own. The homeowners have the option to have private carters come by their homes each week to pick up the garbage at curbside, or to take their garbage to any of the transfer stations in the town.
Rather than do that, some homeowners and renters dump their garbage at public trash cans at town beaches —including Long Beach near Sag Harbor Village — resulting in overflowing garbage cans.
Proposed legislation would make it illegal for anyone to dispose of litter generated by households at garbage cans intended to be used by pedestrians.
Such garbage cans are typically used for candy wrappers, fruit peels or small pieces of trash, not bottles, cans, clothing, compost, food packaging, food scraps, newspapers and yard waste.
“We proposed this legislation because we get many, many calls about overflowing garbage cans, mostly at our beaches,” Town Board member Julie Lofstad said on Monday. “We have also heard from people who state they have seen vehicles drive up to a can, stuff a garbage bag—or bags—in it, and drive away.”
She said it was “pretty apparent” that some of the people who stuff their filled garbage bags into the cans are not beachgoers just looking to get rid of the trash from their time on the sand—they are throwing out their household garbage.
Currently, the law does not offer a mechanism to penalize those who use town garbage cans to throw out their household trash, simply because they are at least throwing it into a receptacle rather than illegally dumping.
“If passed, police and code enforcement officers would then be able to write a violation to someone who is using these town resources for their own personal use,” Ms. Lofstad said. “These cans are not and were never intended to hold big bags of trash generated at someone’s home.”
She added that keeping up with garbage is a full-time job for town employees that could be more manageable if the cans were used for small trash—which they were intended for.
“Our beaches are one of our most treasured resources,” she said. “We need to keep them litter free. This will be a tool to do so.”
The Town Board held a public hearing on the matter during its meeting on Tuesday—its members closed the public hearing and is expected to vote on the legislation at the next board meeting on July 23.