Friday, August 10, 2012

Recycling Bandits

Today, Friday, is recycling day in my small City.  We utilize a single stream collection system.  Which means that all our recycling, paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, cans, etc. is put into one large bucket.  Then the City utilizes an automatic pick up truck system that grabs the bucket and dumps it into the truck (which looks like the below image from another city).

The recycling program doesn't cost anything to the City, or the tax-payors, because the recycling program pays for itself by recycling and selling off the higher value recyclables.  In fact, there has been some discussion about a program in which the City will start tracking the weight of each household's recycling and eventually provide rebates (that will go to cover cost of waste removal) based on higher levels of recycling.


As you know, we live in South Florida.  South Florida has a large immigrant population (both legal and illegal).  I have general objection to the Federal government not enforcing our immigration laws and the fact that the illegal immigrant population strains our tax funded resources.  However, on a personal level, I generally have no problem with the illegal immigrants that make their home in our City.  Most of these folks are hard working, family orientated, peaceful folks who are doing their best to make a better life for themselves and their children.

But, every Friday I see, without fail, a group of immigrant women who goes around and collects the cans from the recycling buckets.  As far as I'm concerned this activity is theft from the City and from the citizens, because it is undermining our recycling program.  On the other hand, I'm sure these folks probably don't see any harm in their efforts since what they are stealing from is trash.  Some municipalities have criminalized recycling theft or scavenging  but I can't find that our City has done so.  As such, if there is no ordinance against the activity I'm not sure anything can be done at this point.

At this point, I'm thinking about reaching out to my local commissioner, what would you do?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

In our city, it is illegal to take anyone's garbage since it is still the owner's propery - until it is in the truck - so find out if it is still your property when it is on the curb. I would turn them in - theft is theft. You could yourself take the recycables to a recycle center and get cash for it, but you choose to let the city benefit from it - for the good of the community.

Karen said...

Wharm are they really doing? I think if they put in the effort and time to collect the recycling, they should get the benefits.

Sure you've 'donated' your $$ via recycling to the city but if this provides some income for others, who are probably struggling (hence picking up others recycling) what's the difference?

Karen said...

Oops, that's supposed to say "what harm..."

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Sam said...

Karen, I guess the harm is that the poaching of the valuable recycling materials, the cans, undermines the ability of the City to run a recycling program that doesn't cost the City or the tax-payors money.

At present, our recycling program is free to the City and the residents because it pays for itself. If enough cans are poached the program may no longer pay for itself.

Also, the City has been studying whether to track each resident's recycling with the idea of giving rebates if you recycle more and reduce waste. The goal being that residents would receive a rebate on our waste removal bill. Obviously if one was earning a rebate on their recycling, one may be upset to see others poaching.

Karen said...

Sam,

Fair enough. The situation is somewhat different in Australia, particularly in South Australia where I live. We have a very high rate of recycling on items that you get refunds on. But we've also always had recycling programs run by local government.

But I get your point, what the 'poachers' do should cost others.

Karen said...

Oh bugger, I did it again.

That should read "what the poachers do shouldn't cost others".

I'll get it right one day.

PS. I'm enjoying your blog.

Anonymous said...

Karen said "I think if they put in the effort and time to collect the recycling, they should get the benefits" .... so if someone goes through the time and effort to rob a bank (or your house or steal your car), then you think it is okay...you put your money in the bank (purchased items for your house, financed your car) "but if this provides some income for others, who are probably struggling ... what's the difference?"

Anonymous said...

Karen said "I think if they put in the effort and time to collect the recycling, they should get the benefits" .... so if someone goes through the time and effort to rob a bank (or your house or steal your car), then you think it is okay...you put your money in the bank (purchased items for your house, financed your car) "but if this provides some income for others, who are probably struggling ... what's the difference?"

Anonymous said...

i think you could have left out your entire views on immigration and just stated that some people are taking the cans. it is irrelevant to the story.