Someone is rummaging through your recycle bins…
Whether you know it or not, when you put your recycle bins out at the curb every other week, someone is very likely helping themselves to anything of value in those bins before the Allied Waste truck arrives. You may have seen or heard them rummaging through the bottles and cans, usually after dark or early in the morning before the truck arrives. The most desirable items seem to be aluminum cans and plastic water bottles that have a California Redemption Value (CRV).
Looking the other way.
This isn’t something new. I noticed that this was happening quite a few months ago. The people who were toting garbage bags and sorting through the bins seemed to be less fortunate families trying to get some extra cash to make ends meet, and they were very considerate not to make a mess — so it was no big deal. Like many of my neighbors, we were more than happy to look the other way. And why not? If we willingly put money out by the curb every other week, shouldn’t somebody be able to take it?
The answer to this question is that it’s not legal. According to San Carlos Police, once the stuff is put into an Allied Waste bin and placed out at the curb, it belongs to Allied Waste. If someone decides to help themselves to your bin, they’re technically stealing from AW. When they catch people sifting through recycle bins, they’ll cite them on the spot.
There’s also the issue of privacy. While most of these people seem to focus on bottles and cans, what about paper products? We recycle everything, including newspapers, junk mail, and yes…bills. We try to shred anything that might have confidential information, but you have to wonder what kind of confidential information can be gleaned from junk mail.
Finally, with the recent uptick in crime and vandalism in San Carlos, I imagine some residents aren’t too comfortable having anyone they don’t know on their property, especially after dark or early in the morning.
The first time I came out one morning and found my recyclables scattered all over the sidewalk, I decided enough was enough. Now, I’m not such an ogre that I would call the police on these people, but this got me thinking that if someone was willing to stand out in the rain and collect cans and bottles, there is probably some decent money in it.
Our solution was to turn this into a recycling lesson and a money making venture for our kids. Basically, they sort the goods, they keep the profits. A month’s worth of CRV’s around our household is about $40, which is a gold-mine for a 12-year old.
What are your thoughts?
Is this a problem in your neighborhood? Should the City be cracking down on people sorting through your bins, or should we just look the other way? I’d love hear what you think — just click on the comment link below…
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