Although it’s an inconvenience, disposing of refuse — including that old couch that might find a second life in someone’s home or that broken dishwasher someone might be able to fix — is each individual’s responsibility.
Those driving past the Sedona Recycles’ Verde Village bins near Mingus Union High School during the last month, however, may realize that not everyone feels the same obligation to take care of their own junk.
Despite visible signs warning that dumping items at the site is illegal, used possessions kept piling up.
“Over the last couple months, someone dumped their entire home there,” Sedona Recycles Executive Director Jill McCutcheon said, adding that the on-and-off presence of other bins that accept donations of clothing and other items often inspire misuse. “People say, ‘Maybe they’d like my mattress. Maybe they’d like my reclining chair’ .... It’s been a minor problem. We always clean it up as we go.”
According to McCutcheon, during the last couple months illegal dumping has become more than a minor problem: “It’s the worst it’s ever been, this last month .... We have called the police out there another time. They said they would monitor it more often, but it’s tough to catch these people as they’re dumping their property. People just dump there because no one’s out there to see them.”
McCutcheon said that it would have cost a “fortune” for the individual or individuals that dumped so many of their possessions recently to take those same possessions to the city of Cottonwood Transfer Station. Sedona Recycles’ Verde Village site is the organization’s busiest: Staff removes approximately 300 tons of recyclables a month.
At the same time, the Verde Village site is harder to monitor than Sedona Recycle’s other sites, which are more visible to the public and law enforcement, reducing the amount of illegal dumping that occurs.
The only other Sedona Recycles site to experience a significant problem with illegal dumping is located in Rimrock, McCutcheon said. The reason, she added, is its relative isolation. Camp Verde and Jerome’s sites, McCutcheon said, are relatively free of illegally dumped items.
Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Randy Garrison, who sent a photo of illegal dumping at the Verde Village site to Larson Newspapers on June 13, said, “This is just another example of the illegal dumping issue we are experiencing Verde Valley-wide. Sedona Recycles is trying to do a good job, but the problem is just becoming too great.
“We will be working with all the local jurisdictions to step up patrols and enforcement, but really it just comes down to respect for our community and valley.”
Other communities that do not make use of Sedona Recycles’ services weighed in on the topic.
“This was one of the primary reasons we moved our recycling bins to the transfer station: Illegal dumping,” Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh said.
Sedona Recycles pulled its bins out of the city in 2015. “Our site was at Sixth Street and State Route 89A and we were continually dealing with illegal dumping.
“At the transfer station it is monitored, so we do not have that problem.” Clarkdale Police Chief Randy Taylor said that Clarkdale experiences little illegal dumping “except for occasional illegal dumping at the recycle area by the grade school and at the old shooting range when it was still available.”
Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki said that illegal dumping near the Verde River represents a “constant battle” for the Middle Verde YAN reservation.
Winiecki believes it is mostly Nation members doing the dumping, as accessing an open area near the river is difficult for passersby unfamiliar with the community.
“It’s something, like every other community, we have to work on,” Winiecki said, adding that educating YAN members about refuse service, including making them aware of regular dump days, is key to making sure people don’t illegally dump refuse or belongings on YAN lands.