After the City of Portland declared that any trash, recycling and/or yardwaste set out for pickup is public property, local reporters decided to show the Mayor, the Chief of Police and the City District Attorney just how annoying it could be to have someone legally going through your stuff.
If the chief got overheated, the mayor went nuclear. When we confessed that we had swiped her recycling, she summoned us to her chambers.
“She wants you to bring the trash–and bring the name of your attorney,” said [the Mayorâ€™s Press Secretary] Sarah Bott.
Being in the trash/recycling industry myself, I know that to me, trash on the curb seems rather average because I know what happens to it once it gets thrown into the truck. If you think it gets destroyed once it gets packed, you are oh so very wrong.
From what is the general legal understanding, the stuff in your can is your property until it gets put into the truck, after that, it is public property and in some cities, once it gets into the truck, it is the property of the collection/hauling company.
You need to destroy that which you do not want others to see before you put into the can. Go spend the $20 on a paper shredder or get good with the scissors because for the next twelve to twenty four hours or so, we can probably find it if asked.
At least once a week we get a call from someone who wants something they put in their can back. The cities we work on contract with tell us to tell folks that everything is beyond recovery because of safety/liability issues, but it is just sitting in a big metal box with stuff that other folks have tossed out. Sure, it has probably been compacted to near destruction, but it can be found, even papers.
Of course, some people have more connections than others and every now and then we get calls from the folks who â€˜know someoneâ€™ and we have to hold a truck off the line and dump everything out to look for something. Iâ€™m glad to say that in the last six years weâ€™ve had a 100% success rate in recovery, everything from jewelry to ten years of tax receipts.
Donâ€™t want someone to find out who ships what to your house? Cut the label off the box before you stick it in the recycle bin, my friend. That label has your name, their name and most likely your order number on it. Boxes and the like stay in pretty darn good shape, even after being baled, until the company who buys it to recycle it shreds it. Granted, the difficulty of finding your single shipping box grows with each hour it is away from your curb, but if there is a glut in the corrugated cardboard market (like there has been for over three years) that box is probably sitting somewhere nearby in your city for a few weeks until it is sold off and can be found.
Iâ€™m just saying.