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Waste Management to Restrict Dumping of Bulk Items

June 23, 2005 — Who doesn't love a weekend filled with a couple yard sales or a good flea market — the thrill of one perfect find in the middle of a mountain of discards is the stuff Saturdays are made of all over the United States.
St. Thomas has its own version of turning one person's trash into another's treasure—it all happens daily at the dumpster bins placed around the island.
"I have picked up things from the dumpster, mostly kids stuff at certain times of my child's development. I've taken toys home and cleaned them up. A lot of it I've brought back to the dumpster if it's in good condition and left it out for someone else to pick up," says one woman who chooses to remain anonymous.
Children's toys don't even begin to scratch the surface of what can be found standing next to a dumpster bin on any given day—lamps, electronics, tables, chairs, bicycles, clothes—basically anything that has been outgrown, won't fit into the moving container, or hasn't quite used up its shelf life. These things could be just what another person is looking for.
"It's deliberate. If someone can use it, it's the right thing to do. If it's garbage, then I'll throw it out," says the woman. "I view it in a positive way. To the extent that we can minimize waste and share resources in this community I think we should do it."
But the days of picking up your new living room furniture at the dumpster are on their way out. The V.I. Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) says the dumping of bulk waste and white goods has to stop.
"It really doesn’t belong at the bin site. It costs additional manpower and equipment," says May Adams Cornwall, executive director of VIWMA. In addition to being costly, Cornwall says the waste is unsafe and unsanitary.
On designated days large bins will likely be placed in certain areas for bulk dumping. The pick-up and drop-off days will be announced in the near future, but until then bulk waste can be taken to the landfill between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays, and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Bulk waste consists of furniture, bedding, and other large household goods. White goods consist of stoves, refrigerators, and other large household appliances.
VIWMA and their contracted private haulers will be doing a clean sweep at the bins sites on St. Thomas. The director of solid waste successfully forged a private-public partnership. The governor's administrator's office assisted in the removal of junked vehicles.
Enforcing the clean sweep of bulk waste will be handled "first and foremost with education," says Cornwall. There are plans in place to post signs at dumping sites and possible future camera surveillance, but the best way to tackle the issue, according to Cornwall, is to rely on the community.
"They are our eyes and ears. People tend to look the other way, but we want them to call us when they see this at the bins," says Cornwall.
As for recycling the trash and letting others pick up a new treasure, Cornwall says it's a good concept if it were put into different practice.
"We'd still like to deter it at the bin sites. It should not be going on in full view of the traveling public." Cornwall says the best way to deal with the problem would be to set up a business—storing the valuable goods left at the bin and selling them for profit. "If someone wants to do this, we would be willing to promote that. As we meet with citizens we'll be talking about that," she says.
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