How do trash services deal with illegal waste?

I started a thread about cleaning up after hoarders in IMHO and someone pointed out some of the things that can take a while in the cleanup are potential hazards like mold/feces, and even things such as used mattresses. This got me to wondering, when I lived in a large apartment complex, I never worried about those sorts of things. They had enormous dumpsters out in back and it was not uncommon for people to throw old mattresses, broken furniture, used paint, oil, etc. A truck would come, empty whatever was in the dumpster, and leave. For all they knew, there could have been a dead body in the dumpster.

I imagine the people who ran the trash service didn’t have the time or interest to pick through every dumpster first prior to picking it up, so how does that work? For that matter, the city doesn’t seem to care either as long as it fits in your can. If I was in the habit of chopping up hobos and leaving the remains in my can at the curb, I’d wonder if the robot arm garbage truck driver would even bother to notice.

For the sake of this question though, let’s assume it is a private trash company and a mattress is obviously sticking out of the dumpster that has been abandoned there with a bunch of half full paint and oil cans on top of the rest of the garbage. Can they just take it anyway and pretend they didn’t notice? When they unload later at what I presume is a busy landfill, does anyone inspect what they drop off? I am in California if that matters, but I’d be curious how this is handled in other parts of the country/world as well.

Why is it illegal to throw out a used mattress?

They pick up used mattresses here all the time, so I would suppose you are talking about a suicide bed? Soaked in blood and/or feces? Bio hazard items I think are suppose to go to a facility where they burn used medical supplies.

Old paint around here you are suppose to take the lid off, mix in kitty liter, and leave it to dry before you put it in the trash.

Used motor oil is picked up at the curb as well.

No electronics in the trash, suppose to be taken to the recycling center, and you pay a per item fee for disposal.

As for stuff they see, they will take it out and put it back on the curb. Tires, televisions, monitors, car batteries, small appliances, IF they see it.

What they would do if they are at the landfill and discover anything in the dumping process I have no idea though.

I think it very likely that everything goes into the landfill or incinerator, with the possible exception of illegal items obviously sticking out of your cans. Even those might well go unless somebody was especially worried about following the rules.

For some things that are especially dangerous, the control happens when you first get the thing, not when you want to throw it away. Some radioactive devices are pretty strictly controlled. The companies that design, make, and sell them have documentation systems and inspectors crawling around to enforce them. When you buy one, the NRC knows it and tracks it. They may send inspectors to check on it. If you have one go missing, it’s kind of a big deal.

I know some folks who put one of these gadgets in the trash when they dismantled a machine (AFAIK through ignorance, not ill intent). The error soon came to light and they wound up spending days at the local landfill with heavy equipment, and with shovels and none-too-sweet boots. I believe they were very highly motivated to find the thing, which they never did.

However, ALL these mechanisms must be flawed and there must be a scary number of nasty items falling through the cracks.

This is true for latex paint in most US jurisdictions. But it’s not true for oil-based paints. Those are disposed of as classic hazmat, just like used motor oil, hydraulic fluid, etc.