CHICAGO (CBS) — Many of the city’s garbage carts have proven no match for hungry squirrels, raccoons, and rats in search of an easy meal. Chicago aldermen and Streets and Sanitation officials were hoping to come up with a cost-effective way to keep rodents from chewing through them.

Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams said 37 percent of the city’s 1.1 million garbage carts on the city’s streets have been damaged by rodents over the past five years – some beyond repair.

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Replacing them would be expensive.

“We’re actually repairing those carts. We saved approximately $500,000 cart costs last year through the repair of those carts,” he said.

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Some companies offer products to place on the cans to protect them from damage or ward off rodents, but Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st) said he has other ideas.

“I would like the commissioner, when they do another request for proposals for garbage cans, to see if we can get the manufacturer of the existing cans to come up with some type of mesh that is baked inside,” he said.

Brookins said extending a cart’s life could be worth the extra cost.

“Maybe it will cost us $5 more, or whatever a can, but if it doubles or triples the life of the can, I think that it would be well worth it,” he said.

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Williams said the city is willing to listen to possible solutions from the companies that offer add-on solutions for existing carts.