One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure … just as long as it doesn’t come out of a blue or green recycling bin.
Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis recently asked the police department to crack down on people who go through residential trash and remove recyclables that they later scrap for a profit.
He pointed to the ordinance (161-2C) that states all recyclables “become the property of the Town of Barrington when placed at street-side.”
“It is specific to recyclables. I just think it’s bad practice to have anyone rummaging through (the bins) curbside,” he said.
Mr. DeAngelis said there are a number of reasons why he’s focused on stopping the trash-picking. He said the loss of recycling materials results in a loss of revenue for the town.
Barrington Town Council President June Speakman said she understands why the town manager is taking a proactive approach to the recycling issue, but added that she feels that anyone taking other items — those not addressed by the town ordinance — is actually doing the whole state a favor.
“The shared problem we have is that the landfill is getting maxed out,” she said. “Anyone who wants to reuse something that’s in my trash, I’m OK with that. … I’m a reduce, reuse and recycle person.”
Ms. Speakman said she had the recent experience where she put out a few items for the trash which disappeared before the MEGA contractor trucks ever arrived on her street. She said removing items from the trash that would otherwise end up in the growing landfill in Johnston is a good thing.
Don’t touch it
Mr. DeAngelis does not share all of Ms. Speakman’s views on the issue. He said he would much prefer people to avoid anything put curbside — not just recycling items.
“My opinion is that everyone should stay out of the curbside” materials, Mr. DeAngelis said. “It lends itself to problems.”
Mr. DeAngelis said he fears that residents could get into confrontations with those going through recyclables or that the pickers could mistake other items left in a resident’s yard for trash.
Enforcement of the ordinance, however, could present some challenges to the local police force. Unless the pickers are witnessed in the act, it becomes difficult to prove where the recyclables came from.
“I think the officer has to use his own discretion,” Mr. DeAngelis said. “If it was me, I would escort the person to the recycling center and tell them to dump it… but I’m not the officer.”