Nov 27, 2012

Why is the recycling center so messy?

Q: Why are the recycling bins always so messy when I dump my trash there? Can this be fixed? — Arnold in Sandusky

You probably noticed this problem over the holiday weekend. It's not uncommon for the bins (off of First Street near Cedar Point Drive) to be overloaded with recycled material over weekends and holidays, when there is a gap in regular pick-ups by Sandusky Steel, the company that removes the waste. When contacted about the problem, Sandusky Steel manager Steve Lichtcsien said he was disappointed people using the bins decided to throw cardboard boxes and paper products on the ground near the bins instead of putting them into the receptacles. "Our driver reported that the container was not completely full and most boxes were not flattened," he said. "As soon as some one throws a box on the ground people seem to follow the lead and not check the container for space." Lichtcsien suggested perhaps locking the recycling center over holiday weekends — when the problem seems to be at its worst — or having citizen volunteers drop by a few times over the long weekend to flatten boxes and properly load containers. And, obviously, everyone who uses the bins can help by flattening boxes and checking the bins for space before resorting to dumping anything on the ground.

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They are too busy doing nothing but laying around for next hand out…

The Bizness

I have a feeling that people who recycle aren't the same type of people that are the ones on welfare and food stamps. Point is that it is probably middle class people that are just being lazy.

Licorice Schtick

Blaming the victims


Yes, SOME people are lazy, but they don't recycle. What's going on here, for the most part, I think is a bit different.

Too often the bins really are overflowing, or the available space is behind a door that won't open. The passive aggressive reponse to messed up situation is common and predictable, and no one should be surprised if some people drop their stuff in disgust, even if they COULD make room somewhere.

To place all the blame on the users is to blame the victims, and that's not productive.

This is a system failure.

A system in which a truck arrives at the exact moment that a bin is completely full is not possible, AND users should NEVER encounter a situation in which there in no room for their recyclables. At a site where there is only one bin of each category, every instance in which a bin is hauled away full is a system failure, because a user might have (and probably did) encounter no proper place for their recyclables.

Thus a valid operational plan would call for ALWAYS emptying the bin BEFORE it is full, but "common sense" will drive contractors to minimize cost by emptying only full bins. (Again, "common sense" proves itself to be overrated.)

"Common sense" might suggest multiple bins of each category, but that just complicates the problem, because to help, some mechanism is needed to ensure that one bin is filled well before the other, and if not, you just get a bigger mess.

The details of the contract may be part of the problem. Ideally, it's the hauler's responsibilty to clean up the mess, so that he has an incentive to make it as convenient as possible for the users. (Maybe someone would care to post a link to a PDF of the contract. Wiremama222?)

Common sense is overrated. Management is about more than bossing people; it's even more about the design of systems. This is a system failure, and the responsibility lies with management, not with the victims.

BW1's picture

Answer, because people are lazy pigs.


People suck at disc golf and cannot hit the bin? We need more practice.


People ARE lazy pigs. If you care enough to go to the trouble to recycle, you flatten your boxes, rinse your bottles and cans, keep your newspapers separate from your know, properly recycle. These people sound like they just want to get rid of their trash for free. Pigs. They ruin it for the rest of us. Look for them to take this recycle center out if this keeps up. This is what makes it so expensive to operate.

Dwight K.

Its good to see people recycling but come on don't be stupid


People are just lazy and do follow what others are doing without even looking for themselves. This article had nothing to do with people on welfare so I don't even understand why this is being brought up. I frequent the Recycle Bins out on Marquette and I can tell you that there are people who just plan do not care and I am sure they are not receiving any form of assistance and are dropping their items in front of the bins.
I do not want to see them remove these because of this so I do clean the mess up when I have time. This is a privilege that we are being given and should not be taken for granted. I do not want to add this to my garbage bill and would like to continue going to Marquette so for those of you who are lazy just take the time out to look before throwing your items on the ground.


Exactly what I feared would happen. This is what happens every time there is a recycle place. People just get stupid about things. It's like "monkey see, monkey do" One puts something on the ground, to does the next person.

Check the bin before you throw things on the ground. They need a sign or something to say "flatten the boxes" . People just don't think, they need directions. "rinse cans". You have to tell people, you can't assume they will know what to do.

This is what I fear will happen downtown as well. It is the way people are now, it has nothing to do with social class, its just PEOPLE. It never ceases to amaze me how dirty people have become. I wonder what their homes look like inside, Both men and women seem to have become so lax.


On Monday the the 26th I was an individual who went to the Cedar Point recycle center to do my recycling and "discovered" the mess that was there. I couldn't even get to the container to deposit my recyclables as it was knee deep all the way around the bin from behind to the gate. Instead of depositing my recyclables on the ground, which I never do when they are full as I take them home and come back later, decided to take matters into my own hands. I proceded to start flattening boxes and throwing the cardboard into the near empty bin partially out of anger, and the other part out of wanting to keep this privalage. I counted 7 people who came to recycle and just leave without even offering to help, then the 8th person showed up, a photographer from the Register. By this time I had picked up half of the cardboard that was there and informed him that his picture wouldn't show how bad it really was. We had a short discussion of why and how this happens without reaching a definitive answer and I continued to keep cleaning up. The photographer, whose name I didn't get said that someone called the Register to get pictures of the piled up recyclables, when was this person there? Why didn't they get off their butt and do what I did? They obviously had to have been there to see it? After the photographer took his pic HE helped me finish picking it up, all the while we were doing this in plain sight of the water department and probably the city employees who work there. When we were almost done low and behold the city workers showed up with brooms and shovels to help us finish stating that someone called the city and they were sent to clean it up. They thanked us and as we were leaving I shook the photographers hand for helping me when I realized I hadn't put my recyclables in LOL. Do I have a solution to this problem? No I don't, but the best I can come up with is to lock the gates when the water department closes and leave them locked over the holidays. Other solutions that I can think of is to get people who have to "work" to get their benefits from the state and let them clean it up, or get non violent inmates from the jail to do it. I am sure there is a solution to this problem but it will take one person to spark an idea and more to refine it. Oh by the way, I am a "middle class" person who isn't lazy, worked hard all my life, but now disabled, and I am still hurting from what I did, so please don't disrespect me, I wish you could feel the pain, physical and mental that I still feel today for the unselfish act that I did.


No one should disrespect you for your unselfish act. But it was not your responsibility nor that of the photographer to do the job of the city people. It is their job, not yours. I think what you did was admirable. But you must take care of YOU and not others, that is why you are now in pain and shouldn't be.

If they lock those gates, people will only leave their mess outside the gates or try and throw things over them. These recycle bins have always been a mess ever since they were introduced because people refuse to take reponsibility for themselves and because of people like you...who clean up after them.

The three R's just don't apply any more and it is a shame, but do not do the work of the City nor of others ever again. It isn't your job.

As much as you would like to, do for yourself and remember that your disability causes you to take care of you first: as hard as that is to accept. If you were at 100% it would be a different story. Being disabled myself I am finding that helping out even with one thing physically can make me pay for two or three days afterward. I forget sometimes and then pay for it later...because I wanted to help.

It just isn't like it used to be. Sorry but true facts.

Thank you for what you did that day. Just do not do it again.


Mama no one has disrespected me for what I did, and I sincerely respect that,and I also appreciate you and Dwight K. for thanking me for what I did.The one thing that you and I don't know for sure is, who is REALLY responsible for cleaning around the bins? If whoever is responsible is not doing what they are hired to do, maybe they don't realize that is their responsibility as part of their job. If that's the case then they need some redirection in their job duties and if they don't take this redirection then maybe another course of action is needed. Unfortunately I was raised to help when I can, be respectful of others and give thanks to those deserve it, it's in my blood, it needed to be done and I couldn't "feel" good if I left it like that. Yes you are correct that it wasn't my responsibility and never will be, but it is hard to walk away from something I could "fix". Yes this is a fault of mine and it always will be, maybe the next time I should go to the water department and ask for help, but it is hard for me to ask as all of my life I found it quicker just to go ahead and get it done. I just want to say that maybe the next time it happens, and probably will, it won't be my turn, I did my time. I also have respect for the thoughtless actions from the photographer who helped me, maybe our actions will create the "monkey see, monkey do" and others will be able to "take a turn". Thank You again for the help you are a good person also.


Such lazy thinkers;
so many call us "lazy"
See the irony?

Dwight K.

Thank you're a good citizen...Ive noticed at other recycling centers in the past that people even pile up recycling around the bins even when there isn't holiday


Holidays have always been a problem. I would think they would empty them the day before the holiday and make them completely empty so this wouldn't be a problem. That way over a three or four day holiday, this wouldn't happen.

Empty containers wouldn't fill up THAT fast in a three day time, I wouldn't think, but they do when they are partially full already.