Someone stole my recyclables.

Wednesday is trash collection day here, which means people take their trash out to the curb late Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Anything recyclable (bottles, jars, cans, etc.) goes out in blue trash bags.

It’s not unusual for someone to drive by and pick up anything that can be fixed and reclaimed, like old furniture, TVs, appliances or tools.

I took everything out a while ago, including four blue bags of recyclables. A while later I looked out, and the blue bags were gone. I looked up and down the street, and of the trash that’s already been taken out, there are no blue bags. Who the hell would have a use for bottles, jars and cans?

Are you in a bottle deposit state? Anyway, you managed to recycle them into stolen goods.

Cans are actually valuable. You can sell them to a scrap dealer and make a profit. Bottles and jars you have to pay someone to haul away (unless they are eligible for a bottle deposit refund).

If they have enough room in their vehicle, it’s more efficient to just grab as many bags as they can and go. Then they take them somewhere and remove the cans. The rest of the stuff they just dump somewhere.

Many people just put the cans in separate bags to make it convenient for the scavengers. That way they can just take the cans without dumping your whole recycling bin searching for them and at least the other stuff will get recycled.

Two things:

  1. If it is in your trash on the street, it becomes public domain. So nobody technically “stole” it. IAMNAL, so if I am wrong here, I’m sure some one will chime in and battle my ignorance.

  2. I think you answered your own question with your question. Why would someone steal recyclables? why, to recycle them, of course! Which usually nets you a few bucks. enough for a few beers.

Seriously? How lucky you are to apparently not live in a place where they do the bottle/can deposit thing. In California, you can’t go anywhere in an urban area without a scourge of filthy (often homeless, but not necessarily*) people digging around in trash bins looking for cans.

*I live in an apartment complex in a relatively nice neighborhood, and there’s still people constantly showing up to rummage through all the dumpsters. But what’s interesting to me is that these people show up in cars (there’s not all that much in walking distance), so they are almost certainly not homeless like I’m used to seeing in other urban areas. It’s super annoying because one of the dumpsters is situated right outside my bedroom window, and I’m often awoken at some ungodly hour to the clink clink clink sound of shifting bottles and rubbish.

In Chicago, we are supposed to use large brown paper bags for our landscape waste. They cost about 50¢ a piece. Last summer, someone stole one of those bags from our alley, and tossed all of the twigs and leaves that were in there in our trash can.

Here in San Francisco, it’s illegal.

Hmmm, interesting article. So, by their logic, if I take in my own cans/bottles (in SF anyway) I’m stealing from the city/taxpayers? Seems…dumb.

He who steals my trash steals purse… wait, that can’t be right.

Same in Minneapolis: the city counts on the recycling revenue, and they really don’t want anyone picking out the good stuff first. This supports the city’s solid waste disposal, which takes stuff like old mattresses, couches, scrap lumber etc. for no fee. You’re free to sell your own stuff if you can but no one else has a right to scavenge the recycle bins. We don’t have bottle deposits here so about the only things worth scavenging are aluminum cans and to a very lesser extent scrap steel. And there are a couple of private firms that will take scrap electronics off your hands but don’t pay anything for them.

No, if you take your cans and bottles to the recycler, you’re recycling. But if you put them in the marked container that belongs to the city which is intended for recycling, then they ‘belong’ to the city. So some third party who takes them is technically stealing - not from you, but from the city.

I’m in Sacramento, not San Francisco, but I’m pretty sure the law is the same.

Ok, lemme rephrase it as such: Let’s say me wife gets sick of the piles and piles of cans I have out on the patio that I am saving for my retirement fund and she dumps in the blue bin and puts it on the street. I get home from work and take them back in…I would then be in violation?

Anywho, aside from all the recycling specifics, is general garbage on the street considered public domain? Thus police need no search warrent to go through it…?

Actually, in SF it belongs to the garbage company (Sunset Scavenger in our case) as do the bins. This is, however, never enforced. The garbage company benefits from the recycling money as part of their contract with the city.

snfaulkner, I think common sense applies here, and you can change your mind about your own recyclables until such time as they are picked up.

Yeah, I was being a bit of a pedantic ass/half joking. But I’m more curious about the cops-not-needing-a-warrent-to-go-through-trash thing as a reason for trash being public domian. Or am I wrong about that too. Which I admit I may be.

AIUI, that’s the case here in Oregon. And I think that includes anything put out for recycling, although I haven’t heard of any specific court case about that. But there have been some about garbage that the courts ruled is free to anyone. These cases were, of course, challenging the right of police to go through people’s garbage to look for evidence. And I expect the police looked through both gabage and recycling.

BTW, just because someone shows up in a car does not mean they are not homeless. They could be living out of their car and scavenging recyclables to pay for gas as well as food.

I no longer put alum. cans in the recycle bin after too many times picking up crap on the street after some early morning picker went thru the bin for cans. I leave them in a big old plastic bag under the bushes. They’re welcome to them.