SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Seeing trash in the streets is common in South Los Angeles. According to a local business owner, city trash pickup takes longer for bulky items and pick up by a private company is expensive, which leads to illegal dumping.
Errol Segal, owner of Active Recycling Company, wants to solve the problem of illegal dumping in South L.A. His company accepts up to 500 pounds of trash or greenwaste for free at its location at 2000 W. Slauson Ave. The company accepts all trash except hazardous, liquid or electronic waste.
Segal has run Active Recycling at the Slauson location for the past 46 years. He began this campaign after noticing the difference in response time for bulky item trash pickup at his home in the San Fernando Valley versus his work. The items near his home were picked up in the standard three-day window, while items along Slauson stayed long after.
While looking at alleys on Slauson during that drive, Segal recalls,“[On] Slauson and Crenshaw, I saw dressers, tires, carpeting, … shrubs, grass cutting. After over 40 years in South Central, this is depressing.”
His concerns were heightened after reading a Los Angeles Times investigation. It confirmed that requests for trash removal in Central and South L.A. were more likely to be ignored.
Once Segal read the report, he knew he wanted to “do something for the community.” He soon began accepting unwanted trash for free at Active Recycling Co. Since 2015, the company has collected six million pounds of trash.
In addition to the free trash dumping, Active Recycling Co. buys scrap metal, paper and plastic recycling. The recycling process is fairly easy. Customers drive up to a scale and stay in their car to be weighed. They then dump the waste into the designated bins. After, they go back onto the scale and get paid for the weight difference.
The campaign is run for the benefit of the community, Segal says.
“[Trash services] are treating blacks and Latinos like third-class citizens. I always say doesn’t matter, rich, poor, religious beliefs, everyone should be treated as first-class citizens.”
The clean-up campaign isn’t the only way Segal helps out the community. For the past four years, he’s been giving away Christmas trees to Active Recycling customers in exchange for bringing in recyclables or trash. His goal this season is to give away 1,000 trees he is shipping down from Oregon.
Segal is proud of how Active Recycling Co is valued by the community. “We try to treat everyone with respect. I give respect and I expect that respect back.”
Lots of talk has been made about the woes of illegal dumping, and now there’s a solution. Segal believes that once the public knows there’s a free place to dump trash, this problem will be solved quickly.
“People need to know there is a place open 365 days a year to legally dump trash and it’s not in the alleys, streets, and vacant lots.”
By Quinci Legardye