How long have you worked at Long Beach Recycling Center?
“Almost four years.”
What are some of your main responsibilities?
“Most of it is just sorting through loads. The garbage that comes out of the actual trucks that dump here gets pushed in with demolition debris. We have to pull the wood and copper, that kind of stuff, so there’s less in the garbage and more that gets recycled.”
What’s the dirtiest part of your job?
“It’s probably sorting through loads. If it’s a construction company then you know it’s going to be some kind of demo or wood work. But when people bring up loads from the back of their pickup or if we have big 20-yard containers — we have to sort through those and you never know what people are throwing away.”
Are there any common mistakes people make in regard to recycling?
“As far as recycling goes, a lot of people think that anything that’s made out of plastic — from toys to plastic wrap — can be recycled. We recycle as much as we can, but we can’t recycle everything.”
What are some things you don’t accept?
“We can’t take like gasoline, diesel or motor oil, but we take just about anything. We’ve seen a lot more trash this winter.”
What has been the impact following the Chinese ban on imported scrap?
“We’re having to sort through our plastic a lot more. We were told we could only take #1 and #2, things like milk and juice jugs, but there’s certain things that you could recycle before, like the #3 through #7, but now we can’t take those. We have to pull that stuff out. It’s more time consuming to sort plastic now.”
What’s the most astonishing or bizarre thing you’ve seen?
“Nothing really surprising, it’s all been normal stuff. No dead bodies.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
“It depends on what time of the year it is. During the summer time it’s nice working outside. During the wintertime it’s not as fun when it’s pouring down rain. Not being stuck inside is the nicest part.”
Are there any misconceptions about what you do?
“Most people think that working in a dump or transfer station is dirty, and it kind of is, but it’s not as filthy as some people would think. People say that it smells. I say it smells like a paycheck and benefits. It’s hard to find a steady job at the beach unless you’re a teacher or a cop. There’s a lot of seasonal work, but it only lasts three or four months. There’s always trash. It’s job security.”