April 1st, 2009

eliphas, napping

Getting the trash taken away

oder, "Ach, wie war es doch vordem / mit Sperrmüllabfuhr so bequem!"

In the name of waste reduction, recycling and environmental protection, the city is encouraging everyone to dump their trash in the nearest wood or river.

Used to be, twice a year you brought all your bulky trash to the curb. Following day and night, everyone from antique hunters to poor students, from second-hand-dealers to pensioners and Turks who were skilled with glue and paint and wiring trekked along the heaps and dug out everything that might still be useful. The sad remains were then collected in the morning by the city and put in a landfill.

It was, however, decided that this made the city look untidy and was too expensive, and putting stuff in a landfill was not a good idea. Also, strictly speaking, it's illegal to steal someone else's trash, and there might have been lawsuits.

So, today, you phone the city (during working hours, of course, because everyone is allowed to make private phone calls from work or has a stay-at-home wife to do it for them) and make an appointment to have your trash taken away. Then you fill out a form listing what exactly is your trash. Then they tell you what you cannot put in said trash and have to drive to the trash-sorting company in person. Then you haggle over the best place to put it. Then you have to disassemble the trash into its component parts. (Or not, if you haggle well enough.) And then they'll send a company that collects the stuff (and probably puts it in a landfill).

Because no one knows ahead of time where the heaps of potentially-still-useful stuff will turn up, the freecycle rate has dramatically dropped. And because the company probably does not get more money for collecting the trash than the city used to spend, but other than the city needs to make a profit from it, if they feel you are creating too much work for them (by having trash out that's not on the list -- which can happen, because your neighbour might not want to go through the hassle for a single broken chair), they won't collect.

Half of the trash I put out yesterday is already gone freecycling. What's left is a mouldy cotton carpet, an ancient bubble jet printer, a 30 yo IKEA sleeping couch, two crumbling foam mattresses and a rickety three-and-a-half legged chair.

I'm very happy that someone found most of my old stuff useful. But I'm a little worried if the company will take the far-smaller-than-the-list heap tomorrow.

ETA, Apr 2: It's gone!