Public garbage containers in downtown St. John's are overflowing with residential and business trash, a garbage contractor says.

Joe Conway of Kelloway's Construction told CBC News as a result there's nowhere for pedestrians to put their refuse.

"Lately a lot of people have been bringing their household garbage — from their homes, even on garbage day in this area — and filling the cans with their garbage. So, then people are walking around the streets with a coffee cup or a potato chip bag and they have nowhere to put it so they just naturally just toss it on the street," said Conway.

Conway, whose company has the cleanup contract for the City of St. John's, said businesses are also guilty of using the public garbage cans.

"It's business owners, bar owners. We encounter trash bags where we've got to pull them out of our bags filled with broken glass with holes torn in them, and you got to be so careful where you're handling these bags, you don't know like there could be a jagged edge of a bottle, a glass or an ashtray or anything," said Conway.

"We've pulled bar stools out of our cans, parts of carts, we've pulled everything out of our cans."

Used needles are also frequently showing up in the cans.

"This year we've found a large increase in the amount of needles that are just tossed about the street. People are putting these also in bags and putting these in our bags and, like I say, we have the danger of pulling them and sticking ourselves with a needle," said Conway.

The problem has existed for some time, according to Conway.

"Last year we had a problem with household garbage but this year, I mean, it's multiplied three to four times," said Conway.

Conway suggested people should be given fines as a deterrent otherwise some of the cans may disappear.

"They're actually talking about removing a couple of these cans because they're having this constant battle with this household garbage problem," said Conway.