Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Recycling PR Style

When we first moved to PR it was a real shock. We couldn't believe garbage pick up was FREE and we also were shocked that people don't put their shit in the cans for pickup - they dump it all over the roadsides, off their porches etc. In San German I went to the "recycling" center and found that people just dumped trash outside the gate, or inside the gate (if it was open) and there wasn't any one there to sort it or any labels on the bins so you know where to put stuff. Even the people who DID really bring things that could be recycled couldn't do it effectively. I was shocked even more when I brought an old refrigerator to the dump (and I don't mean the side of the road - this is a real municipal dump) and the guys pushed the refrigerator off the truck and didn't separate it out to remove the freon. I was pleased to find this recycling place in Moca/San Sebastian (not sure) about 8 minutes from our house on highway 111. Let me tell you all about the involved procedure required to get your 15 cents a pound - this could explain why people just give up and throw crap everywhere. The building has a real sign which is always a good sign. They also have a list of prices so you know what to expect. So here's how it works:

You drive up and are greeted by the guys who will bring a bathtub via forklift to your vehicle or will tell you to drive in. They check to see what is what, weigh things, figure out what you get for each, add it all up and then get your "customer number." Yes, to recycle you have a card with a number on it. They also get your license plate number (each time) and have to see your car registration and driver's license. You push all these papers through the little window in the bottom right of the screen to a person(?) you cannot see. You push it in and it disappears and a piece of cardboard blocks the hole so you can't look in. dudududududududu (that's the Twilight Zone music playing). Then you stand around (usually in a line) and wait for your name to blurt out of speakers. When it does you go to the window, collect your paperwork and in my case...my CHECK for $9.67. Yes. A check. No cash, even when it is for 5 bucks. One of these white notices on the windows even says it - NO CASH. So now I have my check that I have to stand in line at the bank to cash. Why not drop it in the ATH (ATM) window? There are never any envelopes and the lines are long.
Well at least the place is clean, they really take and sort things and you can see they make aluminum blocks so things can get shipped out somewhere for real. I don't even care if I get paid for the stuff...just want it out of the landfill and reused if possible. The guy crushing aluminum into blocks looks in my 3 garbage bags and gives me a confused look. "Comer para muchos gatos" I say and he laughs. That alone was worth the trip! Still though I am wondering why they make it so hard. If I were selling copper or other "theft" items I could see the need but really, they can't tell copper wire from aluminum cans?

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