Just about two years ago, my wife and I bought a new house in a 55+ community in Central Florida. We love this community. It offers a lot of things we’ve never encountered anywhere else. One of them is biweekly trash collection. That’s right. Our trash gets picked up every Tuesday and Friday.
I haven’t thought much about it other than being reminded of how convenient biweekly trash pickup is. But suddenly I have questions. My questions are partly motivated by research for an article about Tennessee-based Seraphim Plastics.
Seraphim Plastics is a company that has been buying and recycling industrial plastic scrap for more than two decades. What they do is completely unrelated to my questions about biweekly trash removal. Nonetheless, thinking about their business model has me wondering why my community needs trash pickup twice per week.
Mechanical Plastic Recycling
Seraphim relies on a mechanical recycling process to transform industrial plastic waste into regrind. Regrind is essentially small plastic pellets that are added to virgin plastic before injection mold manufacturing. Seraphim runs the scrap plastic it purchases through a series of grinders to produce the pellets.
It turns out that Seraphim doesn’t recycle any consumer plastics. Guess what? Residential curbside recycling is also voluntary in Florida. The company that handles our biweekly trash removal doesn’t do recycling. So if I wanted to recycle my plastic, I would have to take it to a recycling facility.
I do not produce enough plastic waste to make it worth my while. Then again, my wife and I don’t generate enough waste to need biweekly trash pickup. That is the source of all my questions.
The Necessity of Biweekly Pickup
We see the garbage truck in our neighborhood three days per week. Tuesdays and Fridays are set aside for normal household trash. The truck makes a pass on Wednesday to pick up organic yard waste. Think tree branches, clippings from the shrubs, grass clippings, etc.
I am smart enough to know that our trash removal company does not serve our community exclusively. Not only that, but they also don’t service only 55+ communities. They pick up trash from neighborhoods all around us. So that leads me to ask:
- Do most families need a biweekly pickup?
- If so, how much trash are they generating?
- What kind of trash are they putting in their bins?
- How much would go in their bins if recycling were mandatory?
- Whatever happened to recycling and reuse?
- How much of what gets thrown away could be fixed?
All these questions are running through my mind for one simple reason: there was no such thing as biweekly trash removal when I was a kid. Trash was picked up weekly. More importantly, I grew up in a family of 11 children, a family that only managed to produce two bins of trash per week.
We Generate A Lot More Trash
I am no expert, but I have to believe that a family of 11 children and two parents would produce far more trash in a week than would fit into two bins. That tells me we generate a lot more trash in the 21st century than we did in the 20th.
That makes sense. We are a single-use culture now. We also love convenience, cheap prices, and the fact that plastic has made modern technology possible. All things considered, it’s no surprise that we generate so much trash. Still, I don’t think anyone in my neighborhood puts out a full bin of trash twice weekly. I am lucky to put out half a bin once per week.