Garbage News from Around the World, the January 2015 Edition


A quick recap of some of the more interesting news stories of late that involve garbage:

And You Thought You Were Having a Bad Day: A man searching for his wallet in a trash bin in Northern California was scooped up by a garbage truck and taken on a long, presumably smelly, ride. The Oroville Mercury Register reports that the man survived the ride in the rear of a truck. Yolo County Sheriff’s Lt. Martin Torres said the man, whose name was not released, was inside a garbage bin when the truck made a pick-up on Tuesday. The man told police he used lumber in the truck to reach the top of the garbage pile to better avoid the compactor. He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center for complaints of back and neck pain. “The man said he was stuck in the truck for about an hour, but estimates show it was more like 3 or 3 1/2 hours,” Torres tells the newspaper. “The truck made several other pick-ups before arriving at the landfill, where the driver saw the man crawl out of his trash pile.”

Your Money or My Garbage: A bill dispute between a trash hauler and a customer in Minnesota has resulted in a huge mess, literally. The city of Red Wing fined local hauler Paul’s Industrial Garage $1,800, plus cleanup fees, after authorities say it dumped nearly 2 tons of garbage on a customer’s driveway over an unpaid bill, reports the Post-Bulletin. The operator of the truck also faces unlawful dumping charges after the driveway was littered with discarded furniture, old paint cans, garbage bags, etc. “This is, in my opinion, a completely unacceptable public health issue that was done intentionally with complete disregard for public health, welfare, and safety of the public,” says the city’s public works chief. The hauler says the customer rented the roll-off trash receptacle six weeks ago for the driveway, filled it with household trash, but wouldn’t pay up. The company, which estimates it lost about $1,500 in revenue as a result, apparently decided to take its roll-off back but leave the trash behind.

Apparently, Humans Will Litter Anywhere: In the depths of European oceans, you’ll find coral, sand—and old Heineken cans. Yup, human litter can be found even in the most far-reaching places on the planet, according to one of the biggest scientific surveys ever done of the seafloor. Using video and trawling surveys between 1999 and 2011, scientists analyzed 32 sites in the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea. They found everything from bottles to plastic bags, clothing, and fishing nets—even more than 1,200 miles from land and nearly three miles below the water’s surface, the Guardian reports. Not a single site was litter-free. That means your garbage is on continental shelves, ocean ridges, and deep canyons—the worst spot for garbage build-up, the study says. Plastic was most common at 41% of the garbage found, while 34% was related to fishing—think nets and lines. Also spotted: wood, pottery, glass, paper, cardboard, and even burnt coal residue left from steam ships more than 100 years ago. “This survey has shown that human litter is present in all marine habitats, from beaches to the most remote and deepest parts of the oceans,” a researcher says. “Most of the deep sea remains unexplored by humans and these are our first visits to many of these sites, but we were shocked to find that our rubbish has got there before us.” Smithsonian notes some 14 billion pounds of garbage enter the oceans each year, some of which animals eat, get tangled in, and often die.