Tool and strategies to mitigate problems that are a direct result of commercial/residential trash, recycling and organic waste containers.
By Eric Larabee

The average business customer spends a lot of money to have their commercial bins power washed once a month, but this does not stop bacterial growth and the smell of rotting garbage for more than a few days. A better option is being proactive towards mitigating the problems.

Last summer, hundreds of businesses were surveyed, including restaurants, grocery stores and retail outlets, and they indicated that there are common problems with commercial containers. They are constantly filled with bacteria from rotting food, frequented by rodents and foul odors wafting through the air to the noses of customers and employees. They unanimously said they would be interested in eliminating bacterium, viruses, odor, insects and rodents from their commercial/residential waste containers.

Shield Devices, Commercial Product used on 2-8 Cu Yd Commercial Waste Container. Image courtesy of Shield Devices.

Reducing Common Problems
The CDC has determined COVID-19 can live on surface up to 17 days and is found in trash (see Reports from Various Sources sidebar, page 54). It is still unclear what kind of legal liability companies may face with the public and employees due to the spread of COVID-19. Businesses (and waste collection companies) are in need of a low-cost solution to fight COVID-19 in their trash. From odor problems to insects, rodents and raccoon infection, the problems of foul containers have been around for a long time. Very little has changed in 30+ years and there should be something better. We need to reduce the common problems that are directly related to commercial and residential waste containers.

A more cost-effective and easier solution to fighting viruses/COVID-19, bacteria and odor is attaching a device that automatically dispenses an EPA registered sanitizing liquid agent throughout the interior surfaces of the waste container after it has been emptied and returned to the ground. The device is easy to install, can be used all year long and does not require a power source or modifications to the trash container. The device is about the size of a briefcase, can be made of recycled materials and dispenses organic solutions to control many common problems.

This solution would stop bacteria growth and viruses within minutes mitigating various problems that are a direct result of commercial/residential trash, recycle and organic waste containers, including COVID-19/SARS. It would also eliminate odors and deploy a fresh scent. It mitigates vermin, flies, roaches and other pests, eliminates the need for costly, inconvenient and inconsistent power washing, and protects waste collection workers and the public from material that is contaminated. In turn, this solution, would help waste collection companies generate annual recurring revenues. The device’s maintenance and refills have been factored into the design along with OSHA/EPA approved liquids. Each device will provide all year coverage and only requires two gallons of solution. Seasonal winter temperatures have been factored into the design and liquids for applications in colder climates.

Reducing the Impact
This type of solution has the capabilities of being a field defining product within the waste management industry. The device allows the flexibility in configuration and methods to dispense liquids that may be used on any size container. The main goal is to automatically reduce the impact of common problems of waste containers. Today, the device is more cost effective for waste collection companies’ commercial customers, by conserving the amount of mitigating/disinfectant liquid that the commercial customers (retail, public buildings, apartment buildings, hospitals, etc.) will use in one year. With these types of devices, commercial waste collection companies are able to generate new sources of recurring revenue in an otherwise stable market.

Reports from Various Sources Confirm the Need to Mitigate Problems Associated to Commercial Containers

• COVID-19 can live on surfaces for 17 days—A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC examination of the COVID-19 Outbreak on cruise ships reports the virus was identified on surfaces of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers for up to 17 days.
• The World Health Organization: COVID-19 situation report-71 3/30/20—The virus was widely distributed on a variety of surfaces including trash cans and was detected in the air ≈4m from patients in Hospitals in Wuhan China.
• CDC Report on Pests Affect on Health of Millions: The Center for Disease Control—CDC Integrated Pest Management states that restaurants, cafeterias, and other places where food is served to the masses, pests can affect the health of millions of people. We know that rodents carry food-borne pathogens that can make people sick, says Vincent Radke, with the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH). A restaurant’s dumpster is a gold mine for pests.
• WHO Report on Diarrhoeal Diseases and Skin and Eye Infections From Garbage Bins—According to the World Health Organization, garbage and waste from food processing provides the main medium for breeding houseflies carriers of diarrhoeal diseases and skin and eye infections. The common housefly, Musca domestica, lives in close association with people all over the world. Insects feed on food waste where they can pick up and transport various disease agents. A number of other fly species have adapted to life in human settlements, where they present similar problems.
• The U.S. National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine Report: Exposure to Microorganisms is Considered an Occupational Health Problem—In the United States, the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine. Annals of Work Exposures and Health – Occupational Hygiene: published a REPORT on Waste Collection Workers – Waste Workers’ Exposure to Airborne Fungal and Bacterial Species in the Truck Cab and During Waste Collection – A large number of people work with garbage collection, and exposure to microorganisms is considered an occupational health problem.
• Overflowing Garbage Bins: 5 Impacts on Health and Environment—Ecube Labs, a green technology company, has stated that bacteria, insects and vermin thrive from garbage. Waste bins are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, insects and vermin—increasing the risk of you contracting salmonella, typhoid fever, food poisoning, enteric fever, gastroenteritis, and other major illnesses. Air pollution, respiratory diseases and other adverse health effects are possible as contaminants are absorbed from lungs into other parts of the body.
• Possible New Typhus Outbreak in Los Angeles—The NBC4 reported that “sky-high” piles of rotting trash were found around Los Angeles, leading some to worry about a new typhus outbreak. The trash piles and the rats attracted to them can cause numerous health problems for the surrounding population. Dr. Jeffrey Klauser, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the University of California-Los Angeles, told the media outlet that a growing rat population could spread diseases like salmonella and even the bubonic plague.
• Waste Management Sector—According to interviews and follow-up studies workers in this sector have had Exposure to biological, chemical substances and infectious materials. Workers experience more work-related symptoms and illnesses than other occupational groups. Biowaste, bacteria and their fragments are a factor.
• Worldwide, rats and mice spread more than 35 diseases—According to the Center for Disease Control. These diseases can be spread to humans directly through handling of rodents; as well as through contact with rodent feces, urine, saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent. Diseases indirectly transmitted by rodents – 15 Listed
• Houseflies Found to Carry Harmful Bacteria—Study from Penn State’s Eberly College – A new study from Penn State’s Eberly College of Science Dept. of Entomology have found that houseflies, depending on their location, are carriers for much more harmful bacteria than scientists previously thought. Houseflies are capable of transmitting at least 65 diseases to humans, including typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, poliomyelitis, yaws, anthrax, tularemia, leprosy and tuberculosis, according to Penn State’s Department of Entomology.
• World Health Organization—Cockroaches are among the most common pests in many homes and other buildings. At night, they search for food in kitchens, food storage places, rubbish bins, drains and sewers. They are pests because of their filthy habits and bad smell. Some people may become allergic to cockroaches after frequent exposure. Cockroaches can sometimes play a role as carriers of intestinal diseases.
• Center for Disease Control—Local governments and mosquito control programs often use an integrated mosquito management (IMM) or integrated vector management (IVM) approach to control mosquitoes. IMM uses a combination of methods to prevent and control mosquitoes that spread viruses, like West Nile. Removing places where mosquitoes lay eggs is an important step. Once a week, items like trash containers should be emptied and scrubbed, turned over, covered, or thrown away for management of Container Mosquitoes.

Eric Larabee is CEO of Shield Devices (Seattle, WA). An industrial designer, who has secured U.S. Utility Patents and specializes in Prototype Development, 3D modeling, CAD, product design, ecological design, manufacturing and hydraulics, he designs as contracted to specifications to meet client’s needs and the city’s building code requirements. He uses design and surveying of structures, CAD/Data to create computer models and has experience in design, manufacturing, construction and inspections of fire suppression systems. Eric can be reached at (206) 226-4587, e-mail or visit
For a limited time in Summer 2020, Shield Devices’ U.S. pilot program will offer free devices to a select number of waste collection companies and businesses. They are also interested in meeting potential partners and investors to ramp up production.