You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 6:57 a.m.

Trash-bag brouhaha: Chelsea residents say see-through sacks violate their privacy

By Lisa Allmendinger

Tags or bags?

Some Chelsea residents say the 30-gallon orange trash bags they must use for collection are too flimsy and easy to see through.

One solution suggested Tuesday at the City Council meeting: Tags or stickers that would allow residents to use bags of their choosing.

Chelsea residents pay $2.50 for each trash bag, and they must pick up the city-issued bags at City Hall or four other locations in and around the city. The bags come in packs of 10. Residents can put out as many bags as they’d like.

Complaints about the system started after the city switch from 33- to 30-gallon bags in June 2010 as a cost-savings measure.

Marilyn Mink of Chelsea said she hates the new bags and double bags her trash.

"It's a matter of privacy," she said. "People don't want everyone seeing what's in their trash."

“These are the same 1.5-mill (strength) bags, but they’re tinted and residents haven’t liked it,” said John Elliott, the supervisor of the city’s Solid Waste Department.

“People have even shown their displeasure with the bags by putting notes on them,” Elliott said.

Mink said since she purchases her own black garbage bags to go inside the city-issued ones and said adding a tag with a city sticker would be an improvement.

According to information from Resourceful Bag & Tag of Palos Heights, Ill., the company that manufactures tags, if they are applied correctly to a trash bag, they won't fall off.

In addition, the tag can’t be stolen because it’s unusable when it’s removed from the bag’s neck or placed through the handle of a trash can.

A supply of 75,000 tags would cost the city $2,025, while 75,000 opaque trash bags cost $12,285, according to a quote from Resourceful Bag & Tag.

“If we go back to 33-gallon bags, we may have to raise the price,” of trash pick-up Elliott said.

The city’s current trash bag supply, which was purchased from a different company, is expected to be used up by June. Elliott said he’ll need to place a new order for either stickers or bags in the next six weeks.

It's expected that the City Council will act on any proposed changes in the next month.

Lisa Allmendinger is a reporter with She can be reached at For more Chelsea stories, visit our Chelsea page.



Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

I am so glad we have private trash collection in Lodi Township. I love Monroes. I pay money, they pick up my garbage. No hassle. No problems. Cheap.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

Sounds like it's time to privatize trash collection. Let the market determine the price - $2.50 per bag is far, far beyond what others pay.

Emma B

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

I'm glad this is the big news out of Chelsea right now. I'll feel very blessed when I'm in a place to be concerned about my neighbors seeing my trash and judging me.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 9:44 p.m.

Kind of makes you want to go out and buy something REALLY sensational just so you can throw it out and "shock" the neighbors. Think of the fun you could have! Can you see the headline? "Chelsea Resident Faints on Seeing Emma's Discards". Sorry, but this was too much fun to pass up and you seem to have a good sense of humor.

Susie Q

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

I also miss the old orange bags and would be willing to pay more to get them back. The new ones are too small for our trash can. They also seem to be flimsier, although the article says they are the same. I would be willing to pay a little more for the old 33 gal orange bags.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:34 p.m.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Ann Arbor switched to closed bins for our recycling. Now the whole neighborhood can't see how many empty wine bottles we have every week!

Yeah buddy

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

Guess you will have to go back to disposing of bodies in local bodies of water and not city trash.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Chelsea should do what just about every other city does and use the garbage bins. The bag system has been a huge hassle and is an inefficient system for collection.

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Why does the city not use toters?


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Probably because the idea of the bags is to be able to charge residents for the amount of garbage that is picked up. The current system means that they can charge residents, ahead of time, for garbage pickup. Also it is easier to avoid providing a service for somebody who hasn't paid their bill. If it isn't in a city bag it doesn't get picked up. It would be a lot more difficult to guarantee payment and compliance with the totes. You could charge up front, but then this doesn't limit how many times the resident can put them out and use them. This changes the cuty's revenue stream from a constant to a one time deal.

Marcia Parker

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

I agree the new bags from 2010 are to easy to see through. If the city pays less for a new system will the residents pay less for the tags?