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Friday, May 7, 2010

Heavy G

A reader in Portland sends along a scan of a notice that showed up on his garbage can recently. His comment: "Weeeellll, excuuuuuse me!"

I can understand that there need to be limits on the weight of one's can. I love the guys who haul our trash, and their backs can take only so much abuse. But what I never understood is why the weight limit varies based on the volume of the can. For example, if the hauler can lift a 55-pound 32-gallon can, which can't he handle a 40-pound 20-gallon can?

And if this isn't all about the workers' occupational health and safety, what the heck is it about? The weight of the loaded truck? Can one of Sustainable Susan's people fill us in? Or are these Metro's rules?

I'm sure it's somehow related to bicycles.

Comments (25)

The reason it doesn't make sense is because it's cover for the *real* reason, which is that they don't want people to get more than they're paying for. If you are paying for 35 lbs a week, they won't cart it off if they think you've managed to cram 45 lbs in there.

This has happened to us a couple of times for our yard debris lately and I did NOT see this last year. So something has changed and I wish that there had been some sort of flyer about it, if there was one.

It's all about rates.

It's from the Portland Office of Sustainable Development.

Ever heard of busy work?

Just imagine if that agency didn't exist to generate all these helpful things.

This has happened to me several times -- mostly with yard debris (those grass clippings are wet and heavy).

What I dont't understand is that there is a mechanical lift on the side of the truck that hoists the can up an empties it...so what's the big deal with weight? It's not as if someone's back is going to give out.

One time, the driver could see how full my bin was, got out of his truck and wrote me a "ticket" without hauling the debris. Wouldn't it have been easier to jus have the mechanical lift empty the can anyway?

I have never heard of this happening in Salem. Y'all are just so lucky to live in Portland.

Your trash is measured by both weight and volume. Both cost money to handle, transport and bury in Eastern Oregon.

Yep. They are doing the same thing to trash that they are doing to cars and buses in this city!

Sam Adams has announced a new program.

Waste containers will no longer have lids. The open containers will catch rain water which will be transported to drier parts of the state. Most of the sewer savings from reduced runoff will fund a bike lane running from Union Station to OMSI. The remainder will be spent to support Voter Owned Elections.

[PS: Yes, the city really has used sewer funds to pay for Voter Owned Elections.]

Yo Jack - Your concern for the backs of the guys who haul our trash is touching, but I don't think garbagemen have had to lift various receptacles since the days when they wore Big Bens, hobnailed boots and chaps. What PD said about the mechancial lift.

In short the bigger the can they more they charge. By doing this they are trying to force people into either paying for a bigger can or extra one. It's all about the $$.

My trash collector doesn't even get out of the truck. One time when my dumpster was blocked he phoned his office from the truck and had them call me (instead of getting out and walking ten feet to my door).

None of this is as big a rip-off as the "terrain charge."

My trash company offers different rates. One for a once a month pickup of a large can, one for a once a week small can, and one for once a week large can.

If I simply bought a trash compactor, I could pay the cheapest rate by filling the large can once a month. While this would save the trash company a bit of money by not having to stop at my house each week, their other costs are similar. So I'd be somewhat gaming the system, costing my neighbors money.

As others have said, the underlying concern is about the amount of trash. And weight and volume both play a role in the costs, so having an extra-heavy can is more expensive for the trash company, hence they charge extra.

So yes, OSD's explanation doesn't make sense - there should be a single weight limit for cans that drivers have to pick up manually, and a separate limit for roll carts.

And as far as bicycles, I'm sure you can find volunteers who will show you how they haul 400 pounds of trash on a bike trailer. ;)

What torks me off is when I put the can out the night before, and neighbors put their overfill in my can, making it so the lid doesnt close all the way. Then the collectors wont dump it at all.

Coming To Portland Next. http://tinyurl.com/36498tl

Story Problem:

It is your responsibility to pick up garbage from the houses in a particular neighborhood. You have one truck that can carry a finite payload and can only make one trip per day. What piece of information would be most useful in determining the most effective route for collecting the garbage in the fewest days?

Extra Credit: What effect would it have on the calculated routes if every self-important jerkbag in the neighborhood felt entitled to exceed the maximum weight limit?


I remember the good old days when as a kid I heard the garage door being pulled open before I was out of bed by the "garbage man," who took the garbage to the truck, then returned the can to the garage and closed the door again. Nobody ever thought anything about something disappearing from the garage, but it was great to leave the treats or gifts we gave to the hauler inside and out of the weather.

When I was a kid in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Mack the garbage man would come twice a week. He would stop at the end of the street and honk his horn letting the kids know he was on the route. He would stop and we would pile in and ride the route with him.

He walked up to the house and lifted each can and dumped it in the back of the truck. Lots of service and no weight worries (2x weekly pickup cured that problem). And he baby sat half a dozen kids for two hours a day.

Corollary to "bp" Story Problem:

Quick! Which is heavier? A pound of feathers, or a pound of lead?

Extra Credit re: "finite payload:" Does mass = weight?

Our commercial tenant was told recently by the Waste Management 'representative' that drop box for cardboard was "too difficult and dangerous for the drivers" and that WM was "discouraging" the use of drop boxes for cardboard. This commercial tenant was told to breakdown the cardboard, tie it up in bundles, and place it next to the garbage bins! Now how absurd is that???
Fortunately another recycler, Cloudburst Recycling, still will use drop boxes.
I wonder how the neighbors would feel if our commercial tenant just set up an old fashioned burn barrel in the alleyway?!

"It is your responsibility to pick up garbage"

Wow that really sucks and garbage is like you know, Gross. You couldn't pay me to pick up other peoples garbage.

The way things are going in this city and with the images coming in from Greece, I can see some problems coming.

Just take this garbage issue, I wouldn't be surprised by peoples discontent and inability to pay that we'll see the old burn barrel returning. And since this city requires street trees, no removal of trees, no leaf pickup, so many trees and greenery I think the brush pile burning days are returning too. I'm tired of taking my limbs and brush and having to chop it up into 2 ft lengths and stuffing it into a little green container and wheeling it up and down slopes to the curb, and if the lid sticks up an inch I'm charged for it. Insanity could breed reactionary insanity.

Ya'll do know that in the Metro region where garbage collection routes are all monopolies, garbage collection company owners are all millionaires?

"It ain't heavy, Mayor. It's my fodder."

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