August 17, 2004

To the Dump

On Sunday, my Dad said that he needed to go to the dump, so that he could dispose of some of the old junk that had been lying around in the garden for a couple of decades. He normally wouldn't take this course of action, but the aforementioned rubbish was right in the path of where he wanted to build a wall, and the regular places where he keeps junk and rubbish were pretty much full.
I was quite looking forward to going to the dump, as I remember the exciting times I went when I was a little kid. The great big mountains of scrap metal, old fridges, chairs, sofas, bikes, and random household objects were a source of endless hidden treasure. One day, back then, we went to the dump, and my Dad saw an old bike there. He fished it out, took it home, did it up, and before you knew it, I had a bike. I loved my bike from the dump, but I hadn't even had it that long, before it was tragically stolen from outside Tony's corner shop in Croydon.
On Sunday, we arrived at the dump, and I realised that the modern dump of today is a far cry from how it was in the glorious days of the seventies. The dump of today, is not even called a dump, it is called a recycling centre, and it is made up of a lot of skips in a car park. I imagine that these skips get carted off to something that looks like a traditional dump, where honest, scavenging members of the public are not permitted.
The dump we went to (Newport, Shropshire) was so popular on this sunny Sunday afternoon that we actually had to QUEUE to get in! There were bewildering sets of rules posted everywhere, about what you could dump, who could dump it, and which skip you had to put it in. There was a sign outside, telling people that it was an offence to park your car at the dump entrance, and carry in your waste by hand. This was presumably to stop queue jumping. The maximum penalty for flouting dump regulations was a £20,000 fine or imprisonment.
We were faced with the dilemma of what things to put in what skip, so we opted for the 'General Household Waste' skip. This skip was guarded by some kind of waste disposal expert in a fluorescent jacket and sunglasses. He stood around with his arms crossed, looking hard, and making sure that we put our metal things in the 'Scrap Metal' skip, and not the 'General Household Waste' skip. I wanted to ask him all kinds of technical questions about how much metal something had to have in it, before it went into the 'Scrap Metal' skip. I didn't ask him, because he was scary.
There were two of these 'Skip Nazis' on patrol, and they ran the dump with a rod of iron, and sharp eagle eyes. As I was about to throw an old tyre into the skip, one of them stopped me, and said, 'Sorry, you can't throw that in there'. This confused me a little, and I looked around for the 'Old Tyres' skip.
'We don't take tyres here,' he said.
'You don't take tyres?' I echoed.
'The nearest place is near Redditch.'
My Dad said that nowadays you had to pay if you wanted to dump tyres. He said that dumping legislation these days was 'ridiculous' and 'complicated'. Apparently, even cement requires special paperwork.
Oh, how I longed for the glory days where you could roam dumps freely, picking up old bikes. These modern dumps may be safer, they may be better for the environment, and they may enable much more to be recycled - but they're not as much fun...

Posted by paul at August 17, 2004 02:51 PM


I hereby christen you Stig!

Pleasantly quaint little story I thought.
What's the deal with tyres though? What is it about them that requires specialist dumping.

Posted by: Kev at August 18, 2004 09:58 AM

It seems that an EU directive now prohibits the dumping of tyres into landfill sites. I imagine that the dump puts it's rubbish into landfill, and therefore won't take the tyres. You can read an article about it here -

Posted by: Angry Beaton at August 18, 2004 11:06 AM

I am sitting with both of your sisters in my house they are very hungover and we love the story about the dump it made us all cry.......your skin and blisters are concerned for your state of mind x

Posted by: Beth Morris/Legge at September 12, 2004 12:32 PM