October 10, 2006

The city of Baton Rouge recently issued us big garbage bins. The prospect of not owning our garbage cans for the first time in our lives caused a brief excitement among my fellow residents.

Baton Rouge's new recycle bins

For some reason, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny and I are able to generate a hell of a lot of trash for two adults. It's nice to have one big bin on wheels to take out on Monday nights rather than having to haul out a can, followed by several bags. I can't imagine that there are any residents -- short of those involved in large DIY projects at the house -- who can actually come close to filling these things twice a week. But I guess that's how the city saves money. On any given pickup, there are probably half as many houses with trash out front.

The main garbage trucks of the truck. So they're saving on garbage man-labor as well.

A couple of weeks ago, they added similar-looking but smaller recycle bins to the mix. Again, I appreciate the convenience, and now, there's no request to separate the paper from the other recyclables. But I watched them dump the recyclables this morning, and it doesn't seem quite right.

The current recycle trucks, with the masher that "busts up" all of the glass. The trash collectors must have thought I was insane to take this picture, especially since I made a K-turn and went the other way after capturing the image.

Unlike the main garbage containers, which are lifted by arms on the truck that pick the cans high in the air and dump them in through the top, the recycle containers are manually dumped into the back of the truck by a human. Well, load these babies down with newspaper, let it rain while the lid is cracked, and you have a back-breaking mess of pulp to try to lift into the back of a truck.

The truck appears to be a normal, older-style garbage truck, except that it's painted white. It has the teeth that mash all of the recyclables into the main compartment, and when the hydraulic masher starts its work, you can hear the glass beer bottles shattering into their million little brown, green, and clear shards.

There is an unenviable task for some recyclable separator somewhere down the process: shake the shards out of the newspaper pulp.