There are people who know the value of good garbage when they see it.
Perhaps you've seen them hanging around the dump just waiting for you to discard an item that you find valueless. But what is one man's garbage is another man's living.Almost every load of garbage taken to a landfill contains some recyclable item. People either don't know what's recyclable or they're too lazy to make the extra trip to a salvage yard. But those with salvage rights at local landfills know what is worth salvaging and what is not.
And don't be too quick to criticize these people - many of them are making more money a day than other people. Some make more than $50 a day salvaging aluminum cans alone.
But soon these landfill scavengers will have to find other employment. Once the transfer station of the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District opens in January, the only beneficiary of discarded recyclable items will be the district.
When a person drives into the station, located west of Springville, any item that is recyclable will be separated into a roll-off bin and taken to a salvage yard - with the district reaping the benefits. The other items will be compacted and taken by truck to the Bayview Landfill near Elberta.
But there's one big difference between the transfer station and the landfill: If you're going to drop off trash you'd better be ready to pay.
Dale Stephenson, district manager, said residents bringing items to the station will either be charged by the ton or by the load. Some cities may issue residents a free pass, but residents will pay for it later on their utility bills.
"There will be an assessment made upon coming through the transfer station," Stephenson said. "There will be no free loads."
Compared to most parts of the country, disposing of waste in Utah is still rather cheap. But it won't stay that way unless people are conscientious about not discarding recyclable items. Much of the cost of waste can be eliminated by taking recyclable items to a salvage yard.
"If they put it in their garbage then the people operating the landfill are going to get paid to take care of it," Stephenson said.
But many people don't know what is recyclable and what is not. Jay Lamb, manager of Swenson Metal Salvage in Spanish Fork, said the most common salvageable items discarded are household appliances. Washers, dryers, freezers, water heaters and bicycles are worth money at a salvage yard. If it's made of iron, it's recyclable.
Salvage yards pay $1 for a water heater and about $4 for a washer, dryer or freezer. Items made of aluminum are worth more. Storm doors are worth between $3.50 and $10. Lamb said most items are not worth much, but it's better than paying to get rid of them.
"For everything you don't recycle you're going to have to go across those scales and they'll charge you for what you unload," Lamb said. "If you take a water heater to the transfer station it's going to cost you $1 to throw out, rather than getting paid $1 to salvage it."
Even though items made of metal are in most demand, Lamb said Swenson's will soon start accepting glass, cardboard and plastic containers. He said there is not a good market for glass and plastic now, but there will be in the future.