The Inexplicable Actions of the Trash Truck

Recycling and trash, waiting for pick-up. Courtesy image
Recycling and trash, waiting for pick-up. Courtesy image

Submitted by Gretchen Carey, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator

When you put your containers out for trash or recycling, are you perplexed by the response of Allied Waste/Republic Services?

There are several common issues that are easily solved, and simple suggestions may smooth over your relationship with our recycling hauler:

Issue 1: You put out a plastic container to hold your recycling, and the truck keeps it.
Explanation:  The driver can’t tell your recycling container from the other plastics. Please get a sticker from the DPW that says “Paper” or “Cans and Bottles” on it, and stick it to your container. Any durable container will do.  That way, the driver will know to leave your container behind.

Issue 2: You put out a plastic container to be recycled, and the driver leaves it on your lawn.
Explanation: The driver thinks that you are using this container to hold your recyclables, not to be part of it. Tape a note to the container in question, saying “Please Take”, and you should find your container disappears into the truck.

Issue 3: You used a stickered storage container for your recyclables, and it disappeared.
Explanation: The hardiness of storage containers varies, and in New England’s cold winters the plastic may shatter easily when the driver picks it up. It may be that your container fell apart in the driver’s hands, and he threw the pieces into the truck rather than throw them all over your yard. We suggest buying a grey Town recycling bin at the DPW for $7: they are built to withstand New England’s winters.  While Allied Waste/Republic Services is not responsible for the breakage of your plastic storage containers, they will consider replacing the grey town bins if there is an issue.

Issue 4: The town says it takes rigid plastics, but left your kids’ slide on your lawn.
Explanation: The door to the recycling truck is not big enough to accommodate your slide. The recycling crew will happily take your slide (and any other rigid plastic item) if you cut them into 3 foot pieces with a saw.

Issue 5: You know the town recycles cardboard, but they left yours on the lawn.
Explanation: Similar to Problem 4, the trouble is with the size of the item, not the item itself. Cardboard needs to be cut/ripped into pieces smaller than 30” in all directions, with the bundle being no thicker than 8”. Remember to flatten your boxes, or they will take up too much room in the truck.

Issue 6: For some inexplicable reason, the trash truck/ recycling truck left all my stuff at the curb. They just skipped over me!
Explanation:  Don’t be offended- it isn’t personal. Due to human error, traffic problems, and weather, a few pickups get skipped every week.  Just call the DPW at 781 275 7605 as soon as you realize that your trash/recycling was not picked up (when your neighbors’ was), and we will send someone back to get it.

Issue 7: I got a ticket on my trash- they are trying to tell me something!
Explanation: The drivers will ticket consistent problems, whether they are overfilled trash toters, bad placement of the container, or recycling issues. Please take a minute to read the ticket, survey the scene, and see what you can do to help the situation. If you are still confused, you can leave a message for the Recycling Coordinator at 781 275 7605 x 123. I work part time but will get back to you ASAP, including coming out to visit the site to offer suggestions if necessary.

Issue 8: I am such a good recycler that I am putting out several containers every week. It is ridiculous- my lawn is littered with containers, and I can barely get out the driveway!
Explanation: You can use an ordinary trash can as your container for commingled (plastics, glass and metal) if you put a “bottles and cans” or “recycling” sticker on it. The stickers are free at the Department of Public Works, 314 Great Road. Consider getting a wheeled container, to make your life easier. Just be sure to put your paper in a separate container, or in a paper bag inside the barrel, so it is easily separated out. This should cut down on the “yard sale” look!

So, as you can see, there are often rational explanations for many of the seemingly unreasonable things that may happen to your trash and recycling. Also, be aware that winter is a rough time for the trash collectors: the limited curb space due to piles of snow, and poor visibility do not make their job any easier. If you have a problem that is not mentioned in this article, don’t hesitate to write to GCarey@BedfordMA.gov at the Department of Public Works: it is our intent to serve you reliably!


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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Dorothy Bergin
Dorothy Bergin
8 years ago

An excellent article; explains things very clearly.

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