If you are a tree-hugging ecophile like Yours Truly and reside in a modern, industrialized nation, you no doubt adhere conscientiously to that recent and civilized clause in the Social Contract that requires the Party of the First Part (you) to separate daily household refuse into one of at least five basic groups--organics, paper, plastic, glass, and depleted uranium--and deposit same into appropriate containers for easier collection and recycling. Additionally, there are secondary, smaller containers for broken eyeglasses, expired pharmaceuticals, and depleted batteries. (This enables the social services of your city to supply myopic drug addicts with flashlights that don't work.)
In Naples, back in the days when there was one big container for everything, I think the city (the Party of the Second Part) used to pick up the garbage, which is probably why it never got picked up. Now, with the new segregated containers in place, I hear that the Mob (the Party of the Body Parts) makes the morning pick-ups, but I'd better not say any more about that. Actually, the morning collections in front of my house are early (so as to beat the traffic) and regular (every day). I have no complaints on that score. But there are problems.
Here is the current container situation out in front: four large metal bins for general organic household waste; six medium-sized white plastic containers for newspapers, magazines, cardboard, and miscellaneous paper; one gigantic green container for glass, 50 yards away down at the corner; and right next to it, a similar-sized, but yellow, container for plastics and metals. All of this breeds indecision. For example, a light bulb has both glass and metal. What do you do? One, you can try to take apart the light bulb and deposit the glass and metal in separate containers, as the law requires; two, in a fit of indecision you can put the light bulb on the ground in the space between the two containers; three, you can throw them in the metal containers for organic waste (the bins are so large that you can actually hit them most of the time from even a fourth-floor balcony--or so I have heard). Actually, the two large containers at the corner are too far away for most people to walk, so they put glass, metal and plastic in the containers for organics. (That's a fair trade-off: you're lazy, the planet croaks.)
Large cardboard boxes are another problem. Although the sign on the containers for paper, indeed, encourages you to deposit cardboard, the slots in the containers accommodate only flat material such as newspapers. You can't get the tops off without a special wrench, which keeps people from tossing in sacks of egg shells, coffee grounds, and orange peels. It also keeps people from putting in most cardboard, since you need a chain-saw and most of the weekend to cut up the box that your new 86-inch high-definition space shuttle simulator came in. So you put the whole box out in the containers for organics. After all, you rationalize, cardboard will decay with time. So will those Brobdingnagian chunks of styrofoam. (The half-life of styrofoamium is six zillion years, but what do you care?) They should be cut up and trotted down to the plastics bin, but, go ahead, put them in with the melon rinds.
General confusion (recently promoted from Colonel) is increased by the fact that the city has changed its mind recently on how to recycle. For about a year, they were delivering large plastic bags to residents, one color bag for paper, and another color for plastics and metals. They then installed hundreds of bus-stop looking poles along the street at pick-up points throughout the city where you could deposit the bags, all neatly done up with twist-ties (that the city also supplied). Problem: the poles looked so much like bus-stops that people were putting their trash at the real bus-stops and waiting for busses at the trash points. ("Does yesterday's newspaper stop here," is an interesting question , but we shall have to leave that for next term's Problems in Philosophy lectures.) A few months ago, the city abandoned the project and took down the poles, but many people haven't noticed and are still neatly tying up their trash in bags and leaving them on the street where the poles used to be--where they will not be picked up, since the collectors (city or Mob) refuse to take anything left loose on the streets. Among waste items left loose on the streets are old TV sets, beds, and large plants and tree branches. There is a Sequoia-sized branch in front of my house at this very moment. It has been there for 10 days. No one knows who put it there and no one knows who is going to pick it up.