Active Recycling, a private recycling company on West Slauson Avenue, is offering free trash drop-offs for up to 2,000 pounds on the first trip. Normally, a similar drop-off could cost around $100. Active Recycling then sorts out the recyclable goods.
“Everyone thinks I’m crazy for doing it. It’s costing me a lot of money. What I’m getting out of it is a cleaner city for my children, my grandchildren, and for other people’s children,” Errol Segal, who takes care of day-to-day operations as a senior consultant for Active Recycling, said.
In the first two weeks of the program, 220,000 pounds of illegally dumped trash were taken to Active Recycling. Drop-offs, however, have slowed down in the recent weeks.
While the program was originally intended to last from Aug. 28 to Oct. 15, Segal has decided to extend the offer indefinitely as long as people continue dropping off trash.
“I’m not going to stop for as long as it takes to clean up the city,” Segal said.
Illegal trash dumping has been a nuisance in Los Angeles in recent years, many said. Residents from all over the city take truck-loads of trash to South Central alleys that have become dumping grounds.
Local resident Charletta Butler said near her home, illegally dumped trash has piled up for months. She described rusted cars without wheels and abandoned refrigerators that are languishing in a nearby alley. While she said residents put in a service request more than a month ago, the mess still has not been cleaned up.
“If someone came from out of state came to visit, they would go away saying this is primitive. This is third world living,” Butler said.
The illegal dumping also causes safety concerns because emergency response vehicles can’t navigate alleys filled with truck loads of trash.
After a City Administrative Office report released in March found that Los Angeles lags behind other cities in trash can availability and street cleanliness, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive order to add 5,000 trash cans, add a third “strike team” to respond to illegal dumping requests and to create a cleanliness index to measure progress.
Segal doesn’t think adding more trash cans will solve the problem, since much of the refuse is too large to fit in them.
“What people are dumping illegally on our streets and alleys and sidewalks in vacant lots and by the highways is not a trash can full. If that were all it was it wouldn’t be much of a problem,” Segal said.
In mid-August, city officials came under fire again after Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation statistics showed that the city responded at a significantly lower rate to clean up requests in low-income neighborhoods. The L.A. Times reported that while the city responded to 99 percent of requests for trash clean-ups in some areas of the city, more than one-third of requests in dozens of neighborhoods in Central, Northeast and South L.A. were ignored.
However, the L.A. Times also reported that the percentage of requests that are not responded to overall has decreased since Garcetti took office, from 27 percent in the previous two and a half years to 15 percent.
Active Recycling hosted five press conferences about their free drop-off program. While local media outlets did attend, no city officials or representatives were present, which frustrated some local residents.
Empowerment Congress Central Area Neighborhood Development Council member Leonard Delpit said people should be educated that these opportunities exist, and recognition by city officials is a key part of getting public attention.
“Our mayor mentioned that he wants a clean street initiative. We haven’t seen the mayor, but we support the idea. The concept is correct,” Delpit said.
Segal did receive an email from Greg Good, the Director of Operations and Executive Officer for City Services stating that “The Mayor -— and all of us — greatly appreciate and support [Segal’s] efforts.”
A request for comment from the mayor’s office by Intersections was not returned.
Delpit said further options he would like to see the city pursue are more low-cost drop off opportunities at city-owned yards and camera surveillance of alleys to enforce dumping ordinances.
No matter what options are pursued, Butler said South Los Angeles residents need the problem addressed now.
“We need answers. We need to have it done, and have it done immediately. We don’t need a clean-up when our elected officials want to bring in the Olympics in 2024. We need it now,” Butler said.