A sustainable refuse disposal system

Most of us live in an area where a mandatory refuse collection program exists. I have been a reluctant participant for a quarter century.

There were times of extreme poverty where it was necessary to discontinue service, with the risk of a lien being placed on the property.

It was during these times that I practiced the art of recycling, while mentally addressing the problem of collection.

The collection service is not only mandatory, it is expensive, and you must pay whether or not you utilize the service.

No provision is made to collect refuse which is too large for the containers provided. This results in illegal dumping on the roadway, undeterred by the threat of a one thousand dollar littering fine.

I am mildly O.C.D. about nearly everything. When I couldn’t afford to pay for the service, I challenged myself to make the service obsolete. I bought an aluminum can crusher. We burned our paper and composted our organics. Steel cans were lightly rinsed and collected for the recycler, along with glass and plastic.

With very little effort, I converted my refuse into cash. I was religious with this process until I was finally, once again, able to afford the collection service, and I re-enrolled without penalty.

Having become accustomed to religious recycling, I am unable to fill my sixty gallon trash can, let alone the same sized green waste and recycle containers.

The bill continues to arrive every other month, whether or not you use the service. There is no extra charge for the green waste or recycle containers.

So……………..Here’s how it works. The collection trucks don’t go down every street. In my case, I must transport my containers nearly two hundred yards to a communal collection area. When I was a little younger, this wasn’t a real big deal, but as I pass the “three quarters of a century” mark, it becomes increasingly difficult.

We have become less strict with the separation of trash, organics, and recyclables, and even then, we rarely require our containers to be emptied on a weekly basis.

This isn’t fair! I pay the same as the families that fill their cans to overflowing, every week.

I’ve put a lot of thought into how to make the service fair and affordable for everyone, especially those who put forth the effort to reduce waste.

First, you have to understand the collection process. The collection trucks are equipped with a side mounted fork lift which grips the container and lifts it and inverts it over the opening of the truck. The contents are partially visible to the driver, but not in time to prevent items, illegally dumped, from entering the opening.

Three different trucks are required on the collection route, one for trash, one for recyclables, and one for organics. (green waste) There is no way to determine which household is responsible for the contents of any given container.

We are blessed with technology so advanced, there is no reason NOT to apply some to the sanitation industry.

Here is what I propose. First of all, BAR CODES! There are numerous types of codes, and readers. When a refuse container is issued to a household, a serialized barcode is registered, and each time a container is emptied, a transaction is recorded. The transaction may be a debit or a credit, depending on whether the refuse is trash, or a commodity. There should be a maximized debit for trash, and a moderate credit for reusable material, whether it be organics or recyclables. This would be an incentive to separate our refuse, reducing landfills, and reducing our overall impact on the environment.

The side mounted forklift could be equipped with a barcode reader and a scale, which would weigh the can before and after emptying. This could be automated to prevent incomplete evacuation, and to calculate debit or credit.

A down side to this is that four recycle cans would be required, one for metal, glass, plastic, and paper. Folks that contaminate separated items would be heavily penalized by random inspection. One in ten containers could be randomly inspected, generating exceptional incentive to carefully segregate refuse.

Those folks, so much more mathematically inclined than I, known as “bean counters”, could calculate the debit/credit ratio to penalize the wasteful, and those, unwilling to exert the effort to separate re-usable material. In this manner, the conscientious could be rewarded. The service could be made to pay for itself, including the acquisition of new equipment. Oversized bulk refuse pickups could be scheduled and made on the street, and debited to the household account.

Reducing trash and increasing re-useable is profitable for everyone, and friendly to the planet.



By law, you can bring up to 50 aluminum, 50 glass, 50 plastic, and 50 bi-metal California Redemption Value (CRV) containers in a single visit and request to be paid by count. You will be paid the full CRV redemption of 5 cents or 10 cents on each container.

Are 1 gallon milk jugs recyclable?

Although non-CRV plastic packaging like milk jugs, margarine tubs, etc. can be recycled and turned into new products, these items are not redeemable for CRV. Therefore, it may be difficult to locate a recycler who will pay for these materials. Contact your local Recycling Coordinator for options in your area.


Why can't milk jugs be recycled?

Plastic jugs are not recycled into new plastic jugs due to sanitary concerns. Plastic jugs are typically “downcycled” into materials such as composite lumber. This means virgin plastic is used for all plastic jugs. Plastic is made from fossil fuels.Sep 27, 2020



How much is a pound of plastic worth?

How much do recycling centers pay per pound for cans and bottles? Currently, state certified recycling centers pay a minimum of $1.65 CRV for aluminum cans; $1.33 CRV for clear PET plastic bottles; $0.58 CRV for HDPE plastic bottles (similar to the large water jugs); and $0.10 CRV for glass bottles.


How much can you make from recycling plastic bottles?

The amount you get paid for recycling plastic bottles varies depending on a few factors, such as the type of bottle, the size of the bottle, and where you live. In general, though, you can expect to earn around $0.05 per bottle. So, if you recycle 100 plastic bottles, you would earn about $5.00.Jun 14, 2022


What is the recycling symbol for milk jugs?


#1 PET or PETE is commonly used for soda and water bottles, mouthwash bottles, etc. and is widely recyclable. GreenWaste Recovery accepts these items for recycling in your curbside program. #2 HDPE or PE-HD comes in many colors and is used for containers like milk and juice jugs, laundry detergent and shampoo bottles.


What recycling pays the most?

Scrap Metal. The final and most profitable material on our “best items to recycle for money” list is scrap metal. You may already be aware of this if you've ever visited a scrap yard for cars or other types of scrap facilities.