Holidays bring trash trouble for donation bins throughout Tucson area

Trash trouble for donation bins throughout Tucson area

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s the season of giving and it’s also when recycling bins in Tucson get an influx of donated items.

While most who drop things off have good intentions, others are using these sites as dumping grounds.

American Textile Recycling Service has about 80 bins around the city, but workers said a location off Orange Grove and Thronydale is particularly bad for attracting old, broken furniture, mattresses and appliances.

“Late last night I came by the area; I was actually not at work, and I saw a few mattresses up and piled almost surrounding the location,” said Tim Hynd, the Community Relations Advocate for ATRS Tucson.

A picture sent in by a frustrated resident who lives nearby showed at least five mattresses piled up around ATRS’ bin Sunday night, blocking the donation chute.

Hynd said he had to call two drivers in the middle of the night.

“At 3 am they came over and grabbed all of the items,” he said.

Hynd calls it “illegal dumping” and said it’s an ongoing problem, especially around the holidays.

The upset resident also sent in photos showing several couches, mattresses and appliances surrounding ATRS’ bin a couple weeks ago.

“[Orange Grove and Thornydale] has freeway access,” he said. “I think there are a lot of people that live in this [part of the] community.”

ARTS and American Recyclers (who also have a donation bin in the parking lot) do several pickups a week. Drivers end up having to take the unwanted furniture to the landfill, at a cost to the recycling companies.

“It is illegal under federal law to recycle or recover normal mattresses,” said Fred Oberkamp, the Regional Director of Operations for American Recyclers. “So, you’re not helping us.”

Both companies clearly state what they collect on their bins. Dropping off unwanted items can be hazardous for drivers.

“It’s a very dirty job, it’s a very heavy job,” Hynd said. “When we get mattresses, we have to do separate trips because bedbugs and things like that could contaminate the clothing.”

Oberkamp said people are less likely to feel safe donating when there is trash strewn about.

“Mainly, they are impacting the charities,” Hynd said.

The monetary value of items collected by ATRS in Tucson helps sick children. In a statement, TMC for Children said: “Funding from ATRS and all of our CMN partners make a difference."

Hynd said when ATRS has to spend money on bringing things to the landfill, gas and overtime, it’s money that could have gone to TMC for Children.

Tucson Police said people who leave furniture and appliances near bins that have signage saying they do not take these items can be charged with a misdemeanor because it is on private property.

Both companies emphasized their gratitude towards those who follow the signs and drop off shoes, gently used clothing and toys.

It gives new life to these items and helps charities.

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