Okay back to the remains, which is headed to the landfill. This could be important documents (stay with me Collectors, deep breaths), junk, rat infested clothing, whatever! It's in giant black garbage bags, and it's leaving with us.
What happens to this stuff? And most importantly, are your documents safe?
These are two questions I hear quite often, and so I thought I would write a blog about it.
First I will tell you in writing what happens, once everything has been approved at the landfill, I will update the media portion at the bottom.
Once your stuff is headed to the landfill there are no stops, except for gas or food for the crew. After all it's been a long day, and our work is still not done for a few more hours.
When we enter the landfill, we stop and are weighed in at the front. We drive over to the area where we need to dispose of your garbage, and we dump it right then and there. We personally (yes even me Collectors) throw your giant heavy bags into a hole. Tractors are going by dumping dirt and there are officials waving you out as soon as you are done. It's all actually quite fast. Sometimes we see the bags being buried and sometime we don't. Per officials, the landfill legally has to cover all the garbage at least once a day. Plus they have machines that are rolling over it trying to compact it. Firecrackers are going off non stop to scare off birds and it's all kind of exciting, except the smell of course. We jump back into our vehicles and head off to be weighed out. That is the process. In and out.
Now. Did you know it is illegal to pick, scavenge, go through anything at the dump? An official told me that once my stuff hits the ground it is HIS. People are not allowed to swap, sell, barter etc. It is illegal. They take this very seriously.
Please read my interview below with Diana Ratto (Site Manager, Republic Services, Inc.) when I asked her specific questions about the Vasco Road Landfill:
Rachel: What is the difference between a landfill and a "transfer station"?
Diana: Transfer Station - Normally an enclosed area where garbage is dumped and a crew of “sorters” sorts material; i.e.; plastic, metals, cardboard, aluminum, from actual garbage (MSW) (Municipal Solid Waste); such as trash from your kitchen; used baby diapers; non-recyclable material.
Transfer station is where your garbage trucks leave out of in the morning around 3:00 a.m. and start their routes in the neighborhood to pick up your curb side garbage @ homes; Multi-homes; town homes; condo; and then once they pick up from their route; they head back to a transfer station to dispose their loads/garbage to be sifted through by “Sorter”.
Landfill - Final destination of Garbage; material that has already been sorted through from either a transfer station; MRF; IRF. This is non-recyclable material that once it arrives at the landfill is buried. After decomposing then the methane gas is extracted from the refuse/garbage and generates natural gas that provides energy to approximately 4,400 homes in the area.
Rachel: Is it legal to pick through bags of debris? What about employees or workers, are they allowed?
Diana: Answer - NO.
It is prohibited to salvage through garbage debris at the landfill; it is not permitted. It is immediate termination of employment if our employee’s salvages through the garbage.
Rachel: How long does it take for the landfill to bury your stuff after something is dumped?
Diana: At Vasco Landfill we MUST by PERMIT bury/tarp the garbage every night by 6:30 p.m. This is a requirement of our Permit.
Rachel: Diana, thank you so much for your time explaining what happens to peoples stuff once it goes to the landfill.
Collectors - So is your tax paperwork from 1982 safe?! What about all that mail with your address on it? Absolutely. Lets think it through my information gathering Collectors.
The thought of: someone jumping into a garbage pit and ripping open tightly tied thick garbage bags, finding your documents ... all the while fighting off giant tractors and officials... um no. Not going to happen. AND if someone did do all of that, they would be in big trouble.
I hope you feel better about your stuff going to the landfill Collectors.
Rachel Seavey, Professional Organizer (and blogger) For Collector Care
Collector Care specializes in hoarding disorder, chronic disorganization and professional organizing. We love what we do, and provide realistic expectations and timelines. Please visit our website at