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Dumping Garbage At a Landfill

Chicago has quite a few institutional ways to handle household waste. When you have trash to clear out, you fill your bins and wait for the weekly garbage collection in your area to sweep through and clear it out. If you have recycling to take care of, you do the same thing with the blue carts that are part of the Blue Cart Residential Recycling Program.

What happens, though, if you have a lot of junk to clear out? Maybe you’re moving and have a whole room’s worth of stuff you no longer need. Maybe you own a rental unit, and you have a tenant you’re evicting or who has left a lot of junk behind. Maybe you have a family member with a hoarding problem, and you need to clear out their hoard before something goes terribly wrong.

Whatever the case may be, if you were to fill your usual trash bins and wait for weekly pickup, you’d be at it for months, and that’s not the kind of time you can take.

Most people, when confronted with a situation like this, will immediately think about taking everything to the dump. Chicago does have numerous local landfills, which are all carefully maintained to cause the absolute minimum amount of environmental damage or contamination of the watershed. Some of those landfills are closed to new deposits, while others are active.

The question is, is this the right option for you?

Why Dumping Yourself Isn’t Always a Good Option

While it might seem like dumping your junk in a landfill is a simple and easy way to clear out your trash, it’s not that simple.

The public perception of landfills – often fueled by cartoons from when we were children – is a picture of a towering pile of trash left open to the air while it breaks down over the course of hundreds of years.

Garbage in a Landfill

The truth is that landfills are actually much more regulated and get more regulated with every passing year. As modern science studies the environmental impact of everything from plastic waste to household chemicals, the idea of a large open landfill grows less and less accurate.

This regulation means that landfills need a lot of processing and sorting of materials, and they have restrictions on what they can and can’t accept. For example, you may not be able to drop off hazardous chemicals, electronics with heavy metals in them, batteries, or tires. Many of these items, when they get buried, break down and leach their contaminants into the groundwater, which becomes a hazard for everyone who relies on that water. We all need to drink, so that’s all of us.

The Personal Burden

Another aspect of why landfills aren’t always a great option is the personal burden of handling and dealing with all of the trash you have to drop off.

For one thing, it can be pretty labor-intensive to haul large loads of junk to a landfill. You need to physically move all of it from its current location to a truck (which needs to be properly covered, so you don’t have stuff flying out of the back while you’re driving across the city), and when you get there, you need to unload it as well. For larger and heavier items, you may need two or more people to handle them.

On top of this, you need to cover drop-off fees yourself, and those often depend on the weight of what you’re dropping off. Some larger items may also have fees associated with them, like mattresses and electronics. You’re doing all of the labor, you’re paying for it, and you’re spending your time and your energy to do so.

Man Bagging Trash

You also have to make sure you can drop off your trash during the hours of operation of the landfill. These aren’t just locations you go to dump stuff in a pit; they’re facilities that process what you drop off and need to be open and staffed. Unfortunately, those hours of operation often overlap with your own work hours, so you need to take a day off just to haul stuff to the landfill. Who wants to pay on top of losing a day’s vacation just to clear out some trash?

In some cases, you may even worry about the safety of your vehicle. A common issue with some landfills is damage to tires; anywhere that accepts construction debris may be strewn with nails, screws, and other sharp bits that can puncture a tire. What a way to top off a day, right?

None of this is meant to say that using landfills is bad. Landfills (along with recycling) are among the best options we as a society have for dealing with the waste we produce. It just shouldn’t be your own personal burden to handle.

Now, sure; if you have a truck, a buddy, and the time to go dump off the junk you need to clear out, great! Then all you need to do is find a local landfill that is active and accepts what you’re trying to dump. You may also want to look for a recycling center to handle the recyclable refuse you have to handle; the more we can recycle, the less we need in our landfills, after all.

How to Process Junk and Refuse

If you’re clearing out a lot of junk or trash, you might be wondering how much sorting or processing you need to do before you can get rid of it. Essentially, there are two options.

The first option is the DIY option. If you’re willing to go through everything you want to ditch, you can sort through it. You’ll want to make broad categories, like construction debris, household solid waste, hazardous materials and chemicals, and so on. Depending on the volume of what you have to clear out, this might be a significant amount of sorting. It can also be dirty and even dangerous work, depending on what you’re handling.

Additionally, the City of Chicago has ordinances against piles of junk left in yards or otherwise staged. If it’s not inside your building, it needs to be in a container of some kind, either one with a lid or something like a roll-off dumpster.

The sorting is essential because not all facilities can handle all kinds of waste. A recycling center can only take recyclable materials. A landfill might have certain kinds of items they exclude. The only way to find out how to sort your junk is to look up the local landfills, recycling centers, and processing facilities to see what they can take and where you can bring the trash you need to be handled.

A Pile of Junk

The other option is to call a service like ours. At Junk Relief, we specialize in hauling away literally anything and everything you need to be cleared out. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small load or a whole house, a huge construction project, a hoarding situation, or anything in between. No matter what it is, we’ve seen it all, and we can clear it out for you.

You might be hesitant to use a service like ours right off the bat. After all, you do need to pay us for our time, and, depending on what you need to be hauled away (like loads of heavy brick or stone), there may be additional fees. But, consider all of the things we do for you:

  • We do the sorting. You don’t need to care what the junk is, just that you don’t want it, and we’ll take it off your hands.
  • We do the processing. You don’t need to get your hands dirty in the slightest; just point us at the piles, and we’ll do the rest. We have partners in the community to accept donations and repurpose usable items, recycle as much as we possibly can, and dispose of everything else in the most ethical and sustainable way possible.
  • We handle transportation. You don’t need to try to cram bags of trash into your car and make a dozen trips to and from a landfill; our trucks have excellent capacity, and we can send as many as you need. Zero risk to your vehicle, zero risk to your person, and zero risk to your home.
  • We pay the fees for landfill deposits. Sure, you still have to pay us, but you don’t then have to pay for disposal fees, so it’s kind of a wash.
  • We save you time. All of the time you would spend sorting, bagging up, driving, and unloading your junk, you can spend doing other things, like cleaning the now-cleared room or moving on with your life.

In our eyes, it seems like a win/win situation to contact us. Sure, we’re a little biased (we wouldn’t offer the service if we weren’t), but it’s still a pretty clear value proposition.

Is Junk Relief an Open Warehouse?

At Junk Relief, we’re a company dedicated to handling all of the refuse you need to be cleared out. When you contact us, we come and get whatever you have, and we haul it back to our warehouse for processing.

This leads to a common question: can you drop off your stuff directly in our warehouse?

It’s a reasonable question. After all, if you can bring it out yourself, you could skip having us come out and do it and save money in the process. The question is, can you?

Junk Relief Truck

Unfortunately, no. There are a few reasons why we don’t accept drop-offs.

  • Liability. We prefer to have our crews do the work. We don’t want you to hurt yourself trying to haul around junk you don’t need to, and we’d prefer not to have you risk your safety in our facilities without the proper training.
  • Handling. At Junk Relief, we are capable of handling and processing anything, including hazardous materials like chemicals, asbestos, lead paint, and more. Unfortunately, that means some of that kind of material can be present in our facilities. Without the right protective gear, you shouldn’t come near it. Likewise, if you want to drop off something hazardous, it could cause problems if it’s not disclosed or if we don’t have the gear on hand to handle it properly.
  • Our process. We have our own process for sorting and dealing with the junk we pick up and carry off. Some of what you might consider junk could be something we could salvage, but if you were to drop it off in a way that damages it, then we’d have to scrap it. Similarly, some methods of sorting might make sense to you but be difficult for us to handle. It’s better if we can handle it from start to finish.

We’re more than happy to talk to you about our process, and we’d love to handle your junk; we just ask that you call us to come do it rather than bring it to us.

Want to Get Started with Junk Relief?

Convinced? We thought you might be. Many landfills are open to private deposits because it’s better than having that junk dumped illegally, but the best option is to use a service like ours that relieves you of the burden.

Junk Relief Junk Removal

All we ask is that you reach out and contact us first. Don’t bring your stuff to our facilities, let us come to you. We’re more than happy to work with you on short notice or schedule a pickup whenever you’re available. Just drop us a line (we can take calls, texts, website chats, and more) and let us know the approximate volume and composition of what you need to be hauled away. With a little back-and-forth, we can give you a quote and have you ready to clear out your junk in just a few minutes of chatting.

No matter what it is, no matter how much it is, we can handle it. We’ve done it all before, and we’ll do it all again. Let us handle it for you, so you can do what’s important to you.

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Joe Weidman

Joe is a Chicago native, born and raised in Elmhurst. He founded Junk Relief more than 10 years ago and has worked with more than 20,000 homeowners and businesses throughout Chicagoland. His passion for starting a business in junk removal stemmed from seeing the need to do things differently. He prides himself on his company's model to provide unexpectedly professional service.

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