Thursday, September 18, 2008

Well, this is a pisser!

We have been devout recyclers for years, even before we had curbside pickup by the city. We put our papers in the green bin and our bottles and aluminum cans in the blue bin. We keep the bins in the garage and put them out curbside on Wednesday mornings. We’ve been doing it faithfully for years. The price of the recycling pickup is incorporated into our trash bill.

Yesterday morning our bins were out by the road waiting to be emptied whenever the recycling truck arrived. I just happened to be looking out the window when a guy in a dark blue pickup truck drove up, got out and emptied the contents of our blue bin in the back of his pickup truck. I’m thinking, WTF? He proceeded to take the cans from every neighbor’s recycle bin on my block.

I called the recycling place to see if the guy in the blue truck could do what he did legally. The lady there told me that he can. Then she told me to check with the local police dept. The police dept. affirmed what she said. Seems once the bins are curbside (where they have to be for the regular pick up) anything in them is public property and free to anyone who wants it.

Okay, here’s my problem. Even though the guy who took the recyclables will probably sell them and hopefully they really will be recycled, why the hell should I put them out there for his benefit? I would rather the city receive the benefits and use that money for the betterment of the city itself.

Let me also explain that the blue truck was not some junker truck, it looked to be brand new. This wasn’t some poor soul who needs money to feed his family or something. This was an opportunist of the highest degree.

So now I’m in a quandary. I want to recycle my bottles and cans, but I sure as hell don’t want to go to the trouble of washing out cans and bottles and putting them out in a neat little bin so that some jerk can drive up, take them and make some extra money on the side. Sadly we no longer have places where you can take your recyclables and deposit them.

My argument is, these bins are provided to us by the company that picks up the recyclables and I believe anything contained in these bins would be the sole property of that company. I understand that when I place items in my garbage can and place it curbside, I am relinquishing all possession of these items to the garbage dump or to anyone who wishes to delve into the cans, but I do not believe this applies to the recyclable items in the bins.


Blogger fallenmonk said...

It is a quandry. On some level you have to give the guy credit for taking advantage of the opportunity but by the same token the recycling company is losing revenue even though they have to still make their rounds and pay those costs. I guess you could just wait and not put out your cans until you see the proper truck coming but that's not really practical. Dilemma.

September 18, 2008 5:13 AM  
Blogger FranIAm said...

Such are the ways of American opportunism...

This was recently a problem in NYC where people were taking papers as the price of newsprint had gone up. People were taking the newspapers out of bins and selling them as recycling at a scrap yard.

I don't know if there is much you can do PoP, but I can see why you are PO!

September 18, 2008 5:19 AM  
Blogger 3BG said...

I say shoot the tires out on his pretty new truck. he will get the message. maybe "Guido" the guy who has the recycling contract will read this ad put a couple of his boys out on the route to "persuade" Mr. shiny truck that he is stealing from the recycling provider.
My Township recently informed residents that because they aren't collecting enough recyclable material, they are going to lose a grant, and then out garbage fees are also going to go up. I don't know how it works in Florida, but up here in PA, I consider mr. shiny truck to be stealing from the community.

September 18, 2008 5:20 AM  
Blogger betmo said...

ahh.... the garbage pickers. yep. have them here too. they take anything that they can salvage or repair and resell somewhere. we are lucky here in ny that we can take our bottles and cans to the grocery stores and redemption centers for recycling. i am not well versed in state laws but i have seen enough cops shows ;) and i think that curbside is public domain. i know what you mean about being in a recycle bin- but your trash would technically be yours' too since you bought the trash can and bags. i don't know what to tell ya.

September 18, 2008 5:24 AM  
Blogger dguzman said...

So many sides to this story, PoP. I'm guessing the law is not on your side, if even the cops told you it wasn't illegal for Mr Truck to take the stuff. Still--what if you spoke to your neighbors, and on the next recycle day, you ALL went out and stood on your lawns and told the guy to get lost? Even if it were just a few of you covering for the rest and speaking in unison, maybe he'd be intimidated enough to skip your street, at least. Might work?

September 18, 2008 6:11 AM  
Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

That guy is taking part in the miracle of Bush's economy, he's started a small business! His fundementals are strong in that you are doing all the hard work and he is reaping the benefits for your labor and making money off it. You should be glad someone in your town is starting a small business. If you're not then you must be a dang dirty old Communist.

September 18, 2008 6:19 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

Dr Monkey - LOL

Maybe City Council needs to take it up - they're loosing money on that!

September 18, 2008 6:40 AM  
Anonymous via said...

Rather than reading him the riot act, why don't you and your neighbors tell him reasonably what you did us, that you have taken the time and trouble to see that the city receives the income from your recyclables and that you request that he also be a good community citizen and leave the contents of your bins for the city. You might be pleasantly surprised.

September 18, 2008 6:49 AM  
Blogger Sewmouse said...


Here we don't have the city collecting the recycling cash - it's the scavenger they've contracted with who gets the dough. Therefore, if I saw someone here doing that, I'd not mind, as he is just another scavenger, and not double-dipping by charging the city for pickup, then selling the stuff he charged to pick up!

September 18, 2008 7:22 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

Send Joey Knuckles after him!

Hey, thanks for the kind note on mah blog the other day. I'm baaaaack.

September 18, 2008 7:27 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

I've seen our cans gone before the garbage men come by, and the recycling dudes always come later in the day. I've never seen whether it was an obviously down-on-his-luck dude (or one in a brilliant hobo disguise) or an opportunist. Maybe I'll call DHS.

September 18, 2008 8:40 AM  
Blogger Forty Paws said...

Well that sucks.

September 18, 2008 9:21 AM  
Blogger pooks said...

I came here from Candace's blog because I saw you are a Pissed Off Patricia and I thought, hey, that's me, too!

Somebody told me in our town it's actually illegal for anybody to come along and snag the recyclables before the city can, so maybe it's something you take up with your city council critter?

September 18, 2008 10:08 AM  
Blogger Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

You actually can do something to prevent this from happening.

Make sure that the bins are ON YOUR PROPERTY, and far enough from the curb where he has to step onto your property to get them. As soon as you see him, inform him that he is not welcome on your property, and he should not return. If he does, you will press trespassing charges against him.

You can't press charges the first time, but if he returns after being advised then you can. It will take effort on your part and time from your day, but if you are serious enough about it then you can have a warrant issued for trespassing.

Also, I would venture that there is no legal right to take your recyclables. Your trash is one thing, because there is no expectation of privacy when discarding items. This is why teh polcie do not have to have a warrant to search your trash. However, there is a financial loss to someone, and since you are paying a cost to the company to recycle, then you are paying for a service which he denies, thereby "stealing" from you. The recycling company could also make the claim that there is a business transaction between you and the company, therefore the property is lawfully there property.

September 18, 2008 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did he have a McCain-Palin bumper sticker.....

Alls fair in the great world of capitalism.

September 18, 2008 11:31 AM  
Blogger annie said...

if your garbage co. is waste management, they're doing just fine financially without your recyclables. besides, as long as the stuff is recycled, isn't that the ultimate goal? less landfill and all of that. get ready for more of this behavior, as the economy evaporates.

September 18, 2008 12:20 PM  
Blogger TaraDharma said...

I, too, have heard that it's illegal to poach from garbage and recycling cans -- that the company or city who owns the cans are the owners of the contents. You may want to look more deeply into this. But I also agree with Annie, I think we're going to be seeing more of this kind of behavior!

September 18, 2008 1:25 PM  
Blogger Dean Wormer said...

A serious suggestion: trained ninja squirrels.

(Perhaps I need to get more sleep.)

September 18, 2008 1:40 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

We have been doing a lot of home remodeling lately and I am shocked at the junky crap that people will pick up once it goes curbside.

There has been a huge increase in the price of scrap metal lately so my guess is the guy was cashing in on that increase.

Short of convincing city hall to pass a law forbidding what he is doing, I am not sure what else you could do.

September 18, 2008 2:12 PM  
Blogger Ole Blue The Heretic said...

Life is one big recycle.

September 18, 2008 3:59 PM  
Blogger two crows said...

hi, PoP,
I can see how you'd be P-O'd and feel
invaded but it seems pretty unlikely that this could possibly be a profitable business if he's driving a standard p-u truck.
doesn't his truck run on $4.85 per gallon gasoline? and he's going start-stop on back streets.
I would imagine that after he takes his load to a center and receives the paltry price he'll get for it, he'll see the logic of stopping this behavior all on his own.
if he doesn't, I'd go with the option of banding together with your neighbors and telling him he's trespassing and that you will enforce the law.

September 18, 2008 7:43 PM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

Hmm, interesting ethical dilemma. I don't know the answer but I do understand your frustration.

I just wish they had returnable bottles and cans here in New Jersey - if it made people pick up the litter they leave in the park, it would be fine with me if they also picked up our recyclables. Right now there are always tons of bottles and cans people throw away in the park and no reason for anyone to hold on to them or pick them up for a profit.

September 18, 2008 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you really feel the need to have this stopped, and either you don't want to confront the guy, or you have nicely and he still persists, and being that you are pissed off patricia and pissed off, one option would be the "nuke-uler option'; leave 1/4 or less of the drink (hopefully beer and milk if you aren't a vegan) and let the trash can of all these little cans sour in the sun. after a month of dumping this mess in his truck, i am certain he will stop at least with the p/u from your house, especially if his truck is as nice as you make it out to be. hail satan!

your pal,
lewis stoole

September 19, 2008 4:44 AM  
Blogger Jersey Guy said...

I agree with what SB Gypsy said, this is definitely something for your local council or commission to address. This guy is taking revenue from them and from the recycling company (and by extension, from you). Get in touch with the council and get in touch with the recycling company. If no one does, nothing will get done.


September 23, 2008 12:53 AM  

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