March 9, 2015
We’ve all seen them, the people who hustle around the city collecting recyclables. They go from bin to bin filling bags, buckets, and sometimes flatbed trucks with cans, cardboard, and bottles that they haul over to the city’s recycling centers. For those hanging on by an economic thread, it can be a means to making enough extra cash to survive in this city. But did you know that this kind of collecting is technically illegal and one expert says it could actually harm the city?
I got interested in this topic after Bernalwood posted a question by a new resident who wanted to know the community’s position on the rampant recycling theft she was seeing. A frenzy of comments ensued. “When people steal your recycling they are stealing from everyone in the city. This is supposed to be a small revenue source or a subsidy to help keep your garage collection fees lower,” wrote one commenter. Another wrote, “As to recycling: yes it’s illegal, but it’s not ever enforced. I have less of a problem with it knowing that it is some people’s only way of making a living. What bothers me more is doing it in the middle of the night, making noise, leaving garbage, etc.” The issue garnered over 100 responses, showing that most people know this recycling poaching is going on, but no one knows how to deal with it — or if the bin owners even should get involved.
The overarching issue is that Recology, the company that takes your trash and recyclables, uses the money it gets from selling your stuff to recycling centers to buy more trucks and bins, and to basically stay in business. Technically if people are taking recyclables from the bins and selling them, that means Recology has less money. So is this a big fish vs. little fish situation with a large company working against intrepid individual trash collectors?