Overflowing Litter Bins – It’s all good news!

During all the years I worked on litter I’ve come to appreciate overflowing bins and the opportunities they present, sounds a little odd, but please let me explain.

Bigger bins are not always the answer. Perhaps more bins spread throughout a space can split the litter load.

What if you walked into the busiest park in your town and all you could see litter sitting around the picnic tables, near the barbeque’s and even next to the seating nears the kid’s playground equipment?

That’s a catastrophe, right?  

Now if you enter the same park, and you see overflowing bins near the picnic tables, overflowing bins near the barbeques and the bins near the playground equipment are overflowing as well but minimal amounts of litter anywhere else.

Adding bins nearby or sometimes removing a midpoint bin can spread the litter load more evenly across your bin network.

Now that’s a sight to behold, and you’re looking at the results of lots of people doing the right thing. It’s a compliment, an indicator of successes in other parts of your program. And the overflowing issue is relatively easy to fix. But the litter spread across the ground in your park, on the other hand, is a complex issue and can be difficult to rectify.

If you have a single overflowing bin or even a series of bins you have three options.

  1. Review servicing schedule, too (or “intending to”) more servicing  
  2. Enhance capacity of bin enclosures, too (or “intending to”) larger capacity in the existing network
  3. Splitting the load, this is where you would add additional bins to the network

You also have the option of adding elements of each to create a combined approach, like a few more bins serviced a little more often. Or larger bins and more of them but service a little less frequently.

Adding small bins together right next to each other won’t help your problem.

That’s the beauty of the overflowing bin; you are now dealing with the problem of lots of people using your litter bins. A perfect result.

If you work in any role within Litter Prevention/Management/Reduction, it’s a positive conversation when you tell your politicians about overflowing bins. Let them know how after many years of trying to encourage behaviour change away from littering your town is now enjoying such a positive change.

You will in effect be selling overflowing bins as a win. You do this to keep the tone of litter positive. Your peers, the community and your politicians will look forward to working with you if things are presented positively. Should you sit down and explain the problem with this, and the issues with that you will pretty quickly see attendance dwindle and interest in your program decline.


I mocked this up to help explain – Larger bins may net be as sexy as little designer bins but they sure are cost effective and functional.

When you frame as much of litter prevention as you can positively you develop an optimistic program, one with the belief that most things can be achieved and good things are just around the corner. Embrace what others may see as issues and reframe them as opportunities to continue improving your program.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions on how you might frame other elements of litter in a positive light.