Closing the lid on waste management problems
By Alice Sinia, Ph.D., Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services, Orkin CanadaFood Safety General Alice Sinia Ph.D. food safety Integrated Pest Management Orkin Canada product safety Worker Safety
Orkin Canada quality assurance manager —Regulatory/Lab Services Alice Sinia Ph.D. provides advice on how companies can provide better waste management to avoid the call of the wild.
Warm weather allows bacteria to grow faster, which can cause your garbage containers to produce strong, unpleasant odors. But what smells bad to us is a calling card to pests that feed and breed in the rotting material.
Without proper waste management protocols in place, your trash bins and dumpsters can become a haven for pests like cockroaches, flies, wasps and rodents. Since pests are at their peak during the summer, poor waste management can add fuel to the fire when it comes to pest activity.
What attracts pests?
The decomposing matter in waste bins can serve as a pest’s next meal—or even their home. Cockroaches readily feed on dead or decaying plant material and organic matter while wasps seek out meat, fish and sugary substances. Even though rodents have a highly developed sense of taste, they still dine on garbage, discerning sweet, bitter, salty and sour flavors in their food.
When trash cans and dumpsters are not properly cleaned or closed, pests can get inside and take advantage of the abundance of food. With a readily available food source, pests could harbor nearby and an infestation could take root. Flies will even breed in the waste, contributing to their notoriety as the filthiest pest.
Furthermore, if your dumpster or compactor is not leak-proof, fluids drip underneath and provide breeding grounds for flies that often go unnoticed.
Consequences of a Pest Infestation
Pests certainly make our skin crawl, but they are also bad for business.
Pest sightings can result in lost points on your next facility audit, close of business by public health, not to mention how pest activity can contaminate products, interfering with your ability to deliver high quality products to your customers.
The following pests are just a few of the ones looking to dive into your property’s trash:
Cockroaches like to hide in warm, dark, enclosed areas and they spread diseases like Salmonella and E. coli that cause food poisoning and dysentery. Their feces, cast skins and saliva can also cause allergic reactions.
Flies pick up and spread harmful germs as they move from piles of trash to other surfaces. When they land, flies regurgitate, quickly spreading germs. These pests can be difficult to control because they breed quickly, especially in dumpsters and trash cans. They also rest and defecate on walls near trash compactors, creating aesthetically displeasing fly spots.
Wasps may not contaminate products, but they can seriously threaten the well-being of your employees. Capable of multiple stings, wasps can cause painful stings and produce severe reactions in individuals with such allergies.
Rodents contaminate products through their urine, hair, feces and saliva. They can also chew through packaging—rodents have to regularly gnaw to wear down their incisors, which never stop growing. In addition to damaging your products, rodents can cause structural damage as they chew through electrical wires, gas lines, support beams and even asphalt.
What You Can Do
To help alleviate pest problems—and avoid sanitation concerns—there are several things your janitorial and maintenance staff can do.
If you haven’t already, be sure to incorporate these best practices into their routines:
- Keep all trash cans closed with a tight-fitting lid. This helps prevent pests from accessing their next meal. Make sure there is no space between the container and the lid to prevent pests from getting in and odors from getting out;
- Take out the trash at least daily and schedule regular trash pickup to prevent buildup. Also, rinse trash cans regularly to remove odors and clean out any debris that is left behind;
- Move exterior dumpsters as far away from the building as possible, at least six meters. This will help prevent any potential pests from disturbing your building;
- Keep areas near trash cans and dumpsters clean. Debris around the disposal units is just as attractive to pests as the trash cans themselves;
- Locate dumpsters on a concrete pad to prevent fluids from puddling underneath;
- Install self-closing exterior doors at entrances to garbage and compactor rooms and install insect light traps to help control fly populations;
- Use odor neutralizing products to help eliminate the odors that attract pests.
To help get everyone on the same page, review these best practices at your next meeting and adjust your staff’s responsibilities to incorporate proper waste management routines.
Oftentimes, your pest control provider can also host a training session at your facility to review other strategies for preventing pest infestations. A pest management provider can also recommend treatment plans and odor control programs that help reduce pest activity, especially around waste units.
If you follow these waste management practices and still have pest problems near your disposal units, it might be time to review your pest control program with your provider.
An effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan includes sanitation, maintenance and exclusion techniques that help eliminate the conditions that attract pests in the first place. However, even the most effective IPM plan needs to include thorough monitoring so that you can identify changing pest threats and adjust your plan accordingly.
To make sure pests are one thing you don’t have to waste your time on, ask your provider to review your IPM plan and waste management practices to see if there is anything you can do to alleviate pest pressure.
Doing so will help take pest worries off your mind and improve your facility’s sanitation—and your products’ quality—overall.
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 15 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, contact Alice Sinia via e-mail at email@example.com or visit www.orkincanada.com.