Sunday, January 29, 2006


Early on Friday mornings in my neighborhood, I can hear the rickety wheels of an old supermarket shopping cart making their way up the street. The guy pushing it stops to check the recycling bins in our yards for cans and bottles that have refundable deposits and, as he finds them, adds them to his cart.

If I were more industrious, I suppose, I would take the returnables to the redemption center myself. But as long as I separate them out, I know that they will either be recycled by the city or be collected by this fellow. It's an arrangement with which I've grown to live very happily.

I have never seen anything wrong with the neighborhood collector taking the cans that were meant for the city's recycling program. But a recent letter from a reader in Columbus, Ohio, has made me wonder whether it matters where actions such as those of my neighborhood collector take place.

The reader writes that his local Home Depot has recycling bins outside the store for public use. He's noticed that, whenever he brings stuff to deposit in the bins, an older man climbs into the bins to collect aluminum cans.

"He does not speak English," the reader says, "but he checks the stuff you are tossing into the bins to see if he can use any of it. He has amassed about 15 30-gallon bags, and keeps them piled next to a runoff pond."

My reader figures that the guy probably needs the money, but wants to know if he should call the company number listed on the side of the bin and report the man, or whether he should let it go. If he lets it go, he wants to know if he should "offer to help by collecting the bags and take them to a venue that pays for the cans."

It's no more wrong for this guy to be collecting returnable cans from these recycling bins than it is for my neighborhood collector to take them from the bin in my yard. In both cases, the key is where the bins sit.

On Home Depot property, the store managers have a perfect right to ask the collector not to go through the bins, the same way it would be fine for me to ask my neighborhood guy not to mess with the empties on my property. But Home Depot doesn't seem to mind, any more than I do, so there's no ethical reason to turn in the guy to the authorities.

So long as they don't leave trash strewn about, the same thing goes for collectors who cull public waste baskets to collect empty cans -- possibly more so, in fact, because the cans they retrieve would otherwise go unrecycled.

If I were planning to turn in those cans for the deposits, or if Home Depot were planning to do so, then the collectors would be cheating us of that money. But since neither of us plans to collect the deposits, there's no reason not to let the collectors claim them. Either way, the cans and bottles will get recycled. If collectors are willing to go to such an effort to supplement their income, I see no harm in it.

Since my reader sees recycling as a worthy effort -- I agree -- the right thing would be for him to continue to bring his goods to drop off in the recycling bins at Home Depot. As for helping the older gentleman by offering to drive him and his garbage bags full of cans to someplace where he can redeem them, that would be going the extra mile. There's no ethical obligation for him to offer such help, but there's certainly nothing to stop him from doing so.


Anonymous said...

Boy, did you get this wrong.

It is generally illegal to take recycled materials out of recycle bins.

The city is undertaking an expense to run a recycle program and having the more valuable items out of the bins is taking money that would be used to offset the cost of the program.

Jeffrey L. Seglin said...

Anonymous, you raise a good point. But if you decide to give returnable bottles and cans to collectors either making the rounds of your neighborhood or at a central collection site, isn't that your choice to make?

Anonymous said...

I suppose a professional ethicist can change the question. The main subject of the column and the first response appeared to deal with "taking the cans that were meant for the city's recycling program", theft in anyone's language.
If a person wants to put out recyclable material with a value, whether a refundable deposit or just the scrap value, for other's to take he had better lable it as available for taking by anyone.

Jeffrey L. Seglin said...

Anonymous, let me be more direct. If there is a stated policy against allowing others to take the recycling you leave out each week (similar to policies about how to dispose of old paint cans and CRTs), then you're right...people should honor those.

If there is no stated prohibition and the chief goal is to encourage recycling and cut down on trash that goes to the municipal dump or landfill, then allowing someone to collect refundable cans and bottles from your yard both accomplishes that goal and helps this guy out. Absent any prohibition, it's up to the property honor to decide what to do.

Anonymous said...

California mandates certain percentages of recycling that have to be met by the city. If recycled material is taken out of the bins, that material will not be counted toward the city's total. We are encouraged to recycle not only for the good of the environment but to help our city fiscally.

Anonymous said...

You need to remember that these same collectors go into dumpsters not just to get cans but to steal identities, too.

Anonymous said...

In our city, glass, plastic and paper are all deposited in the same recycling bin. It is illegal to go through another's bin. This is where thieves find credit card offers, (not mine, though, they are shredded.)
Karen Gill, Santa Ana, CA

Anonymous said...

I concur with a number of people here. You're missing out on a number of things - starting with the fact that the economic viability of recycling programs depends on the fact that aluminum is one (if not the only) material which is profitable to recycle. So for every dollar they don't get, it often comes from people's taxes one way or another.

Also, your neighbors may not agree with what you're doing, so you're attracting scavengers to your neighborhood who otherwise might not come there.

Anonymous said...

In responding to who steals my trash? We have a greater ethical dilemma facing our nation; the scavenger's who ferret through one's trash, while spewing trash. Trash can be looked at in the literal sense, the rhetorical sense, and in a physical sense. In one way trash can be viewed the refuse an individual generates, or that a society produces collectively. For example the two Mormon sisters that threw trash in front of my mother's place, because they disagree with my moderate, Democratic view of society. Rather than listen to my views, they choose to stalk an old lady, because they do not have the courage to question my views directly.

In the local newspaper The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper in an article titled Utahns and the War.(Utah section, Sunday January 29, 2006):A6, an individual offered the following observation,"...If you're a Democrat, I want you to understand that I support my president. And if you have a problem with that, we can talk behind the church...." This person identified himself as a former Green Beret. Well, your sisters already spoke, and let me make myself very clear, you can believe what you want, and support who you want, but I politely disagree with you, and your going to respect my viewpoint. If not, what wardhouse, from a Catholic up north, go Navy!

This is what my point is, that this Republican administration has created a myth, that they are on a mission from God, mandated by all Americans. They have divided this nation, by race, by gender, by young versus old, and not since the Civil War has this nation's seams been exposed in this manner. This is the rhetorical trash, where opposing viewpoints have no meaning, and it is classified literally as trash.

Todd Brklacich

Anonymous said...

I read your article about someone going through the recycling bins to
remove cans to sell for scrap. I would like to point out a
consideration that you did not mention.

Someone must haul the recycling away. That entity, I'm sure, gets
paid for the scrap. In the case of the curbside recycling by the city
(or private hauler), the money returned on the recycling likely helps offset the cost of the pick-up. This is probably the case with Home Depot (although HD is not likely the hauler, rather they contact with a recycler to do that). Either way, without the money from the cans, the cost to the home owner would be higher; either in higher taxes or
trash/recycling charges to a private hauler. In the case of Home
Depot, the they may cease making the services available if there is
not sufficient revenue to at least offset some of the cost.

However, if the person gathering the cans for there own gain is
pulling them from trash cans, then I applaud that. They earn money
and cans are spared from the landfill. In this case, the gatherer is actually saving the hauler money: they have less to haul and, at least in our county, haulers pay at the landfill for the amount of trash they dump. This is a win-win situation.

Will Reeves
Grove City, Ohio

Anonymous said...

No foul? That depends on a lot more than you put in your article!
If you own the receptacle, it is your call. Home Depot does not own the industrial waste bins. The sanitation company does. Since scavenging contracts are bid by municipalities, they also have a say. 'Diving' at your home in your personal bin might be OK, but not in a commercial bin. Now in my neighborhood in California it is completely different. The sanitation company owns the bins and recycling is the law. No harm no foul still? Wrong. Since it is the law, and the bins cost a small fortune, the sanitation company has to make three separate runs to pick up refuse, mulch, and recyclables. It triples their costs. They have sole right to collect recyclables for refunds that defray the actual cost of collection mandated by law. Those monies help hold the cost of my trash bill.

No harm, no foul, no way! I have turned them in. Only the Sheriff has responded, certainly not my county supervisor! But its only the recycling business, never any scandals there!

Rick Cleveland
Anaheim CA

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Seglin,

Did you check with Home Depot to see if the recycling bins at their
stores are put there by charities? In that case, the man who takes
cans out of them may be stealing from other poor people who
benefit from the work of the charities.

Joe Richman

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Seglin:
Regarding the column about taking things form a recycle bin:

It is my understanding that a City is State mandated to recycle a
certain amount and if it falls short it is fined. The recycle bins provided by the City are not given just to be nice to citizens -- they are to be used to live up to a contract --therefore it is stealing to take recyleables from the City bin.

If you want to let someone pick through your private trash, or set your recyles in a separate pile; fine. But to say it is OK to take something that belongs to the City or Home Depot is wrong. I imagine Home Depot has a quota of recyles they must meet too.

Dottie Stewart

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Seglin;

I beg to differ with your philosophy of persons collecting salvageable materials from private trash receptacles.

My state, California, has a rebate program for salvageable materials which is funded by the addition
of a charge when these items are purchased. For example, there is a four cent surcharge on every aluminum can sold in the state. My city, Orange, collects and sells salvageable materials to the state.
This money is then used for the benefit of my city.

My city looses those funds when someone removes these materials from private containers, which are collected by the city, and sells them to a middle man who then
sells them to the state. This is in effect a theft of my city's property.

Therefore, your statement "no harm done, no foul" is incorrect.

Robert M. Oran

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Seglin,

I have to disagree with your advice on the man sifting through the trash bins. The trash company depends on the funds generated by
cans and bottles to help offset the cost of collecting the trash.
Without the funds from those recycled items, trash rates would
increase for everyone in the city. Our city has an ordinance to
discourage people from digging through the trash. Not to mention
the problem of trash spilling when stuff is taken out. Do you honestly
believe that all those people digging through the trash clean up any and all messes they make? I can tell you from experience, they do not.

There is also the privacy issue. While I am not fully versed in the legal rights concerning one's trash, I feel that once someone throws something in the trash, they should expect some privacy with therash. Too often you hear about somebody digging through the trash of a celebrity, trying to dig up some information on them. Or on a more serious front, there is the problem of identity theft.

Karl Steinke

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Seglin,

In reference to your article on the ethics of raiding an individual's recycling bin: a waste management company charges a fee for collection which is probably based upon its costs,with consideration for its possible profits in turning the materials around, or reselling. If their collections are being scavenged, it could have an effect on the rates it needs to charge the individual homeowner for collection. For that reason, and because I do not like the idea of a stranger rummaging through my recycle bin in the middle of the night in front of my house, I do not put my bin out until the very last moment.

Judith Johnson
Santa Ana, CA

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Seglin,

I enjoy your columns and your viewpoint. But I think I disagree with you on your conclusion regarding the gentleman that gathers recycled products before they are picked up by the trash collection system. To me it seems analogous to saying “it’s OK to steal millions of dollars, if you only do it a few pennies at a time.” I assume you would disagree with this statement. E.g. you don’t think it’s OK to steal millions. The value of the cans that you alone put out is pretty small and surely qualifies as “not to be bothered with”. But the company that contracted with the city is counting on those pennies adding up over the long haul (no pun intended).

Somebody paid for the containers that allow you to sort your trash into different groups. Again, the cost of YOUR container isn’t much. But the cost to the city of ALL the containers is significant. They only do it if they think they can reclaim that amount over the long haul. I suspect that the company that contracted with the city to haul trash included that expectation in their bid to the city for the total project.

If you recycle two six packs a week, that only adds up to $.30 (in CA). That doesn’t sound like much. But if each collector truck does 1000 homes a day, that’s $300/day per truck. If the city has 100 trucks, that’s $30k/day. You can do the math for 50 weeks at five days a week. I realize that one guy is probably not hitting the entire system that 100 trucks cover each day. But I’ll bet he isn’t the only one doing it.

The facilities at the grocery store are a little different. I’ve read that the stores don’t want to mess with the logistics of collecting and distributing redemption values for recyclable products. But the state makes them do it. So there is less of a case that somebody is losing money. The stores collect it from the customers. The stores pay it back out when they are recycled. But I suspect that the stores would be concerned if they paid money to customers that returned the cans and then the gentleman took them out of the bin and returned them to a different store.

Just another view point.

John Hardesty
Irvine, CA

Anonymous said...

Private citizens "stealing" recycable materials meant for the city, etc does have consequences. In California, cities must recycle 1/2 of their trash or face fines.

I live in Tustin, California. My city provides 3 trash cans: one for recycables, one for green waste, and the other for trash. The weight of the recycables and the green waste must at least equal the weight of the trash or Tustin is fined or charged $10,000 a day, or more than 3 & 1/2 million a year. The weight is determined by weighing the trash trucks at the end of the day on a daily basis. Our disposal company employs 3 seperate "trash" trucks.

If someone goes down the street helping themselves to glass and papers, etc than the city has a hard time reaching this desired weight, and all taxpayers share in paying this substantial fine. How other states handle this, I'm not sure, but this is the case for California.

After I saw your column, I phoned my friend, Lou Bone, who is on the city council in Tustin. He was mayor in 2005.

Dale K. Babb Tustin, Ca

Anonymous said...


I say you are wrong on this subject. Both the man in your neighborhood and the man who gets the items at the bins at Home Depot are stealing.

Both the company with the bins at Home depot and your local disposal
company collect the recyclables, then sell any items of value, to defray costs in the case of the local disposal company, or, to make a small profit, in the case of the company with the bins at Home Depot.

The managers at Home Depot may, or, may not care what happens at the bins as they are probably not on Home Depot property. The company that owns the bins should be informed as to what is happening.

In our area it is against the law to remove recyclable items from curb-side bins as it reduces that amount of money the disposal company recovers from the sale of the recyclables. The practice is referred to as "poaching".

Your attitude is akin to letting someone filch a few coins from the
Salvation Army kettle, just because they might need a few and no-one is

As for the gentleman helping transport the cans to a redemption center, that would be aiding an abetting a criminal, and make the gentleman an accessory to a crime.

Brian Freitag

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeffrey, Where does it end? Occasionally I place items in my front lawn in marked bags for the Salvation Army or Disabled Am Vets or other groups with donations of clothing or household items to assist their fundraising efforts. I do it to help a worthy cause, I do it to avoid the stress and hassle of having a garage sale and I do it to get a (albeit minor) tax deduction. On at least 3 occasions, someone other than the charity with a scheduled pickup scooped up the loot. They took the items meant for a charity and either used it for their own needs or profited from the sale or disposal of the items. I got the junk out of my house, but did not get the tax credit for doing so. To extrapolate your dumpster diving for cans, is it therefore OK for these people to take the donations off of my front lawn for their own good?

Glen Goldsmith, Yorba Linda, CA
Orange County Register

Anonymous said...

Mr. Seglin,

I'd like to respond to your article, "Collector does no harm going through recycling bins," which appeared in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch on Sunday, Jan. 29th.

While I agree with you about there being no real harm in some folks
going through your recycling bin, I need to point out an angle which you
possibly did not take into consideration. Here in Columbus, there are only some areas that have actual pick up of recyclables. Those areas are serviced by an outside contractor and the citizens pay a monthly fee for this privilege. I, thankfully, happen to live in one of those areas
and would not necessarily be a "happy camper" if someone was going through the stuff I had put out for collection. I do need to mention here that our state has no deposit on bottles or cans, so anyone taking such items is probably only doing so to take them to one of the machines or companies that give money back on cans brought in.

I'm not trying to sound like a miser & I don't begrudge homeless folks from trying to make some money, but I, like many others, am on a fixed income and choose to spend some of my money on helping the environment.

Any new thoughts on the matter?

C. Clark

Anonymous said...


I read with interest your column regarding taking recyclable items, and wanted to let you know that in Huntington Beach, California, it is illegal to take recyclables out of the trash.

The reason for this is our trash collectors, Rainbow Disposal, filters all picked-up trash, and the city gets a lower refuse collection bill because of this.

When that local "homeless person" grabs a stack of newspapers or cans that have been set out, it is in actuality, stealing from the City. Maybe there are other municipalities that do the same thing.


Robert R. Rann

Anonymous said...

Mr. Seglin--

There is a saying that what is right is not always legal, and what
is legal is not always right. That was clarified in your recent
January 30 column regarding scavenging garbage.

In this column, you answer a letter from a reader in Columbus, Ohio,
stating that as along as the property owner does not mind,
scavenging is acceptable on private property. You go on,
saying, "It's no more wrong for this guy to be collecting returnable cans from these recycling bins than it is for my neighborhood collector to take them from the bin in my yard.", and "So long as they don't leave trash strewn about, the same thing goes for collectors who cull public wastebaskets to collect empty cans –
possibly more so, in fact, because the cans they retrieve would
otherwise go unrecycled."

I currently live in Columbus, Ohio, and have garbage pick-up provided by the city. I also pay extra for curbside recycling pick-up (at least somebody in the city is doing their part). Even so, my
neighborhood has a problem with garbage scavenging. They go through our recyclables, leaving nothing for the contactor to pick up (a service we pay extra for). Additionally, they go through our
garbage cans, leaving trash all over the place, and making the
neighborhood unsightly. The scavenger's health is also in jeopardy--garbage is not exactly the safest stuff to be going through.

The City of Columbus, in their infinite wisdom, has passed a law
prohibiting garbage scavenging. Section 1305.07 of the Columbus
City Code states, "Scavenging. No person shall remove any acceptable or unacceptable waste set out for collection by the refuse collection division or an authorized, licensed commercial waste hauler under contract with the city unless such person has been authorized to do so by the city, the owner of such waste, or the authorized, licensed commercial waste hauler." Violation of this code is a third-degree misdemeanor, with a possible penalty of 60 days in jail
and a $500 fine.

If collectors are willing to go to such an effort to supplement
their income, you may see no harm in it. However, you are not the
one that has to deal with it, along with the aftermath. Sometimes
the real right thing truly is the easiest.

Christopher A. Timmerman

Anonymous said...

I no longer have the article last week regarding other people going through your trash, but I was really shocked to learn that you condone such a thing. Now I'm further surprised that no one else wrote in to comment on how dangerous this is.

Where I live, it is illegal to go through another's trash cans. I'm glad, because we may think they are looking for soda pop cans to redeem, but they may actually be looking to steal your identity.

Did I read your article incorrectly?

Anonymous said...

Dear J. Seglin
To take things from the city recycle bin on the street IS theft from the city.

The items are for the city only!

The containers are marked as property of the city of Garden Grove. The money from the sale of these items is used to pay the workers who sort these things at the city reclaimation center.
Due to the rampant theft from the barrels the city is having a serious
shortfall of reclaimation funds and our trash fee is being raised to
suppliment the salaries of the workers. They felt that keeping the
workers was important enough to raise our trash fee to offset the
loss of revenue due to theft.

Dumpster divers are thieves! It most certainly is not fair to penalize the people who try to do the right thing by recycling. I now pay more because they stole from my city.

It not only is unethical it is also unlawful--you are wrong to say it's
O.K. to do this.

Jean Thompson
Garden Grove, CA

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Seglin;

While I appreciate your wonderful column and the clear ethical "lines" you draw, some months ago you responded to an inquiry from a writer which has evoked a strong disagreement from me.

The writer had asked whether it was ethical to take recyclables from the "recyclable" trash-containers in front of neighbor's homes, with the writer having the intent of recycling collected items for profit. You responded that since they were discarded by the neighbors, and no longer their property, you saw no problem with it. You actually appeared to commend the writer for their efforts.

Here is the problem I have with your response.

Did it ever occur to you that the trash collection agency counts on recycling these items for a profit themselves, and the estimated proceeds from these recyclables was factored in (and counted on) in determining their fee when they contracted with the municipality they serve?

Keeping in mind that these collection companies have invested in equipment, procedures, and employees whose job it is to deal with such recyclabes, your endorsement of the original writers' behaviour in taking recyclables from neighbors waste containers was way off the mark.

In addition to the strong possibility that the collecting agency depends on these recyclables, it is also possible that some of those proceeds are redirected back into government budgets. Because of this, in my opinion, it is ethically wrong for one to take recyclables meant for the use of another party, even if they were intended to be collected by a waste collection company.

Will you kindly retract your answer if you agree with my point of view?

Thank you for your response.

Mario Fiermonte
Mission Viejo, Ca.

Orange County Register reader

Anonymous said...

It's all about money. You can make the rich richer by allowing the collectors to take it. Or you can help the poor out by letting the scavanger take it. The city, state, and Feds are going to tax the same amount no matter what this guy takes out of your recycle bin. Maybe they'll invest those extra tax dollars in some coins, or maybe even a war against Michigan. We would not want to cut funding from that would we?

Anonymous said...

I read with interest the responses you have received from your column. I live in Anaheim, CA, and I take my recyclables to the reclamation center periodically. I also collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles I find on the street, in parking lots, and wherever else I find them on the ground. In addition, I go through the trash bin at my church occasionally (with the permission of the maintenance man and one of the pastors) and also at my company (with the permission of the cleaning crew and the security guard). These bins do not have the trash sorted, so I am under the impression that the cans and bottles will end up in a landfill if I don't remove them. I am careful to leave the area around bins as tidy as they were before I checked them (in fact, I usually pick up stray trash nearby which originally missed its target), and at the church I am actually helping them get more trash into the bin because they throw the trash in in bags (creating air pockets in the bin), and when I dump the trash out of the bag and back into the bin for sorting it fills those gaps and allows for more trash to be put in. I agree with your readers that scavanging from recycle bins is stealing, but after reading the responses from your readers, I wonder if they would be for or against what I am doing. If I'm helping the environment in some small way and not taking revenue out of the pockets of those picking up the trash from my church and office, then I feel I'm doing "the right thing."

Anonymous said...

In response to what several people have said...

People earlier stated that the recycling pick up companies are State mandated to make a quota of recycable materials and that if certain people are taking those materials, they may not make their quotas and be fined.

But have you taken into the consideration that Americans tend to drink immense amounts of soda, therefore producing major amounts of cans.
Now, if this man is going through the bins and taking what he finds, he may be taking away from those said pick up companies, but to what extent?
There isnt much time for one man to take THAT many cans. He would have to do this at night to avoid being seen, correct? Well, the night doesnt last forever and one man can only travel so far in those given time limits.
So to say that that ONE man may be taking so many cans away that it is disrupting the contract that the recycling pick up companies have with the city, may be a bit of a durastic.

Also, if it is all going to the same place, why do the cans mode of transportation matter this much? All in all it is much better for the cans to be overall recycled than to be carelessly thrown away like garbage.

One more thing, multiple people have stated that the cans are placed in city issued bins.
AND that the cans are intened for pick up by people paid by the city.
So the cans once placed, should be no longer considered personal property, and should therefore be disregarded as pieces of "stolen property."

C'mon people, there are so many people out there that have troubles just getting by everyday.
If they are willing to go out and dig through peoples stuff every week just to make a few bucks, why stop them?
Thats all this world seems to think about anymore.
Why not give a little thought towards the people that actually need helping.
If a man is desparate enough to do this said action, I firmly believe that it is wrong of us as fellow humans to deny him this simple chore.

none said...

Different viewpoint. I am a nurse who recently lost my job due to a medical leave I had no control over. I had two weeks in between finding a new position. I still have not recieved a check from my new organization. I personally had to make some money and did not know what to do. I decided to go through my neighborhood and take cans from the bins. I collected six garbage bags full of crushed cans that brought $17.50 at the local recycling center. This was enough money to make sure I could eat for a week. I am not homeless or a person that wants to steal identity from others, but the dirty looks I got from a couple people was enough to take any amount of pride I had left, which at the point of going through garbage wasn't much. There are times in life when you just have to do what you have to do. It's sad that the big companies make all the money and continue to get rich off these products when a person who walks the neighborhood collecting cans, crushes them, and drives them to the recycling center trying to eat for a week gets ridiculed. Just try not to judge. You never know when it could be you trying to make the few extra dollars just to survive. Just a different viewpoint. Consider it...

kerofbi said...

Disregarding all legal issues and recycle bins, there is quite a bit of recycling in the trash and on the streets to collect.

People who made it illegal to take things out of the trash as well as drafted policies dictating how much weight must be recycling obviously were not very intelligent. The crime is making a mess, not removing recyclable materials from a container going to a landfill. Recycling materials such as aluminum and plastic costs less than producing new aluminum and plastic.

On the issue of recycle bins, I have not seen one convincing argument to explain why taking recycling out of recycle bins is illegal.

On the issue of identity theft, there are many more ways of identity theft than going through your trash. Basic security knowledge such as knowing to have a paper shredder and cutting up expired credit cards should always be known, regardless of whether someone goes through your trash/recycle or not.

The fact that cities need workers to sift through trash for recycling is a mark of inefficiency of the reclamation system as well as the poor practice of throwing recyclable material into trash bins.

In any case, all recycling generates revenue and more so if the recycling originally going to the trash goes to the recycling centers instead.

Another issue is that the customers who drink the beverages within the recyclable containers are the ones paying for the refund value, and so the government has just as little logical claim to these recyclables as these hoboes.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately my husband and I were put in this situation... I've been out of work for a while and he was laid off. He gets unemplyment but that can barely pay the utilities. We've lost everything, and are trying to just have enough money to feed our child. So we decided to scavange the neighborhood for cans. The comments and looks that he received were completely degrading. So before you think it's just some bum trying steal your identity,think to yourself that just maybe it's just someone so down on their luck that they'll even deal with your rude comments and disapproving looks.

Anonymous said...

It's trash, so who in the world cares?

Sure, technically it's wrong --AND NOT BECAUSE IT IS "STEALING, becuase abandoned property is never wrong to take, but because it's trespassing into the bins that reside on the hosts property...But so is it always wrong every time you make a right-hand turn on a green light and go directly into, say, the middle lane instead of the far right lane.

If anyone is desperate enough for money that they take cans or cardboard from a commercial bin, who the heck cares? It's great for the economy, they're probably selling them for A LOT MORE than the company would get for them.

What company security in the right mind would go to the trouble to prosecute someone for a theft that, when all the math is said and done, is causing pennies (max) of damage?

People allow it to happen cuz it makes no sense to do otherwise.

Here is a thought. I happen to know exactly what Walmart gets for their bundles of boxes. $15.00, as of a few months ago.

Those are the HUGE bundles (about 4 feet high and 15 feet wide and 15 feet deep), that their gigantic crusher can make about 700-900 boxes go into. So we're talking about 1 and 1/2 pennies per box on average.

If someone can grab a few from a recycle bin and sell them for 75 cents each, well...gee, are there any economics majors in the room? Is that practically better for society, OR AT THE LEAST, acceptable? OR at the double-double-very least, from a compassion standpoint?

It's one thing to actually thieve. It's quite another to take something no one else wants - at hard work/cost to the collector.

c'mon people, grow some common sense here.

Anonymous said...

It's trash, so who in the world cares?

Sure, technically it's wrong --AND NOT BECAUSE IT IS "STEALING, becuase abandoned property is never wrong to take, but because it's trespassing into the bins that reside on the hosts property...But so is it always wrong every time you make a right-hand turn on a green light and go directly into, say, the middle lane instead of the far right lane.

If anyone is desperate enough for money that they take cans or cardboard from a commercial bin, who the heck cares? It's great for the economy, they're probably selling them for A LOT MORE than the company would get for them.

What company security in the right mind would go to the trouble to prosecute someone for a theft that, when all the math is said and done, is causing pennies (max) of damage?

People allow it to happen cuz it makes no sense to do otherwise.

Here is a thought. I happen to know exactly what Walmart gets for their bundles of boxes. $15.00, as of a few months ago.

Those are the HUGE bundles (about 4 feet high and 15 feet wide and 15 feet deep), that their gigantic crusher can make about 700-900 boxes go into. So we're talking about 1 and 1/2 pennies per box on average.

If someone can grab a few from a recycle bin and sell them for 75 cents each, well...gee, are there any economics majors in the room? Is that practically better for society, OR AT THE LEAST, acceptable? OR at the double-double-very least, from a compassion standpoint?

It's one thing to actually thieve. It's quite another to take something no one else wants - at hard work/cost to the collector.

c'mon people, grow some common sense here.

Anonymous said...

They are thieves stealing from the Collection Company and will eventually move on to take your personal property. Just happened to me last week. The opporunistic rummagers proceeded to steal recyclables I had stashed for me to take in for money. The @#$% heads are going to pay!!!

Anonymous said...

In Fremont, CA BFI is the company that I pay to collect my trash and recyclables. They have a contract with the city. Every pick up "eve" thieves come and steal the bottles and cans that we put in the can. There are not enough law enforcement to enforce the myriad of laws in California as it is, so why expect any law enforcement agency to prosecute these thieves. In fact, the Fremont police have stated on numerous occasions that they just do not have the staff to enforce private property crimes at all. So with that in mind, I doubt that trash thieves will ever be prosecuted. I say bring the cans and bottles to the local "pay for cash" recycler. Once the big trash companies have taken it hard enough in the pocket book, so to speak, perhaps they will come up with a better program, like locking cans.

Anonymous said...

Cities may have ordinances making recyclables "illegal" to collect, but if challenged these laws would fail. "General" legal principles are once you have paced items in the trash they are abandoned and the police can take them. NO warrant needed.Those laws trump municipal laws.

So if the homeless or poor person collects these items in such a municipality I suppose they are committing an infraction-- a fact they are no doubt unaware of. But since these items WILL be recycled, in the same municipality, I doubt very much if the city is losing anything.

Is this not "free enterprise"? Is this it what all the "conservatives" praise to the skies? Freedom from the "nanny state"?

Please. get your stories straight.

Unknown said...

My other point on this would be this simple fact, which I believe any judge would take pretty seriously:

In almost all communities, there are customs for when something is considered 'thrown out', and free for others to take. One of the major customs is, when you set it out on your curb.

In most municipalities, once you set something out on your curb, the significance is, you're declaring it free for the taking.

Whether you like that or not doesn't matter - it's the way it is.

Therefore, if you throw something out (or dump it in what looks like a dumpster), and someone else takes it and sells it for much more than it would have been recycled for, then I say - good for them.

If you're jealous, then stop throwing stuff out.

Anonymous said...

the rickety shopping cart wakes us up early in the morning.the problem I have with this guy is that not only do the recycle bins get robbed of the metal. he seems to have helped himself to taking the downspout off the house and my truck rim and tire that I had taken off my truck to fix a wheel bearing and any other thing that may be of value.i told him to stay out of the bins and he hasn' all for helping people that are down and out but this guy is a thief.

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed of you all. I can not believe the level of arrogance and ignorance espoused in these comments. You dare to call yourselves human. Where is your humanity? You people are the reason I do not work. I hate you and your insane society. I am PROUD to call myself homeless, and I am utterly astounded at your level of hate. You strike me as the type of people who would nosh on a bagel while watching puppies starve. Monsters!

Trash does not belong to you. By discarding something, you, by the very act of doing so, demonstrate your dis-ownership of that thing. Once you place something in the trash, it becomes public domain. Anyone has the right to scavenge. Everyone has the right to life.

You all drone on that the scavengers are going to raise collection costs by removing deposits from bins, causing you to pay more for recycling, but you are already paying for it in the deposit you're throwing away. You might as well toss $5 in the bin and expect that to reach the City. Your city doesn't measure your weekly personal trash quota. Your 50% mandate is unenforceable, and therefore bogus. The only reason the City wants you to recycle your refundables is because they are worth the deposit you already paid. The City wants you to give them that money for no reason other than they want it, and they are using misinformation, statistics, fear and threats to get it. It is nothing more than a convenient scam by greedy fat cats looking to exploit an "untapped revenue stream".

I collect roughly $10 per week in refundable bottles which I use mainly to buy cat food and non food items such as hygiene and clothing. Most people who collect cans do it for very little money, and often spend that money on non-food items, as I do. The drunken sterno bum stereotype is not reality. Talk to that man collecting like a human being, and you might realize that.

You don't see 90% of us. The ones you do see have lost all dignity and care about nothing anymore. They roam the sidewalks dirty and smelly. They want to offend you. They do it for effect. Those are a very very small minority, but unfortunately, the most visible minority. You wouldn't know I was homeless unless I told you. I live better than you do. I have almost no footprint, and produce little waste. I recycle a lot more than cans and bottles, and often am the one pulling donatable items from people's trash to give to Good will.

Some perspective: A shopping cart can hold roughly 150 aluminum cans. That's about $7 in most states, a little less in states that don't offer a deposit. It takes roughly 3 hours to collect that much, and you usually only have the opportunity to collect once or twice a week. In my neighborhood, it's every other week that recycling occurs, so I have fewer opportunities.

Anyone you see pushing a cart, or hauling bags is making no more than $20 a day, and most likely, closer to $5. They are likely not earning this on a daily basis, so their living is made on less than you spend on gas driving to work. Would you deny us this meager ration? Why? How horrible you must be. At least we're doing something for a living, not begging for free things like the city.

Consider this: If we do not earn money, we have to beg for it. I hate begging, but I will do what I have to in order to survive. If you do not give us money when we beg, we have to take it from you by force or coercion. We have no choice in this regard. Either we come up with money, or we die. I do not want to die, and robbing you is better than dying, so I will do that if I must. Do you want us on the corner begging, or in your face with a gun? No? Then let us be, and we will let you be. We know where you live, and we have nothing to lose but time. Be careful who you cross.

Anonymous said...

Okay when the city has a recycle program.. People mixed trash with cans and bottles they are not recycling or for say the garbage man dont care and throws everything in the back i habe seen an old big dresser get destoryed and thrown in sith garbage

Anonymous said...

And also if the recycle program why do garbage trucks have separate bins for plastic metal wood think about it do they really take the time to separate the depsoits the cans no

Anonymous said...

I lived in the midwest some years ago. My city spent a fortune creating a recycling program, and distributing bins to residents. Here's what happened on my street. At first, nearly everyone participated and put out their recycling bins. Before long though (a matter of weeks), EVERY BIN on my street (probably 50+) was being completely emptied by thieves. (Yes, thieves.) Eventually, the recycling trucks couldn't be financially justified to turn down the street for "maybe" 1 or 2 (or more likely, no bins). This was happening city-wide. Eventually, the entire recycling program was scrapped, the recycling trucks sold, and jobs lost. And the anticipated savings from recycling disappeared, resulting in higher trash pickup bills for everyone. So naturally, I do not agree with your position on this at all. You are fixated on your own individual one-on-one dynamic, personalizing it, and failing to see the big picture. If you want to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for the frail, elderly woman on a tiny fixed income that has to scrape by even more every time her trash bill goes up.

Anonymous said...

That simply is not true. Some are truly just collecting for the redemption value and not trying to steal identities. It is unfair for you to say everyone has evil intentions.

Anonymous said...

Once you've put your trash at the curb it is fair game for anyone, that's why the police go digging through ones trash when they don't have enough for a one should never expect any privacy of there trash once put out for collection

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind the writer doesn't live in CA

Anonymous said...

Glen you know they needed it more than a over priced thrift store