People line up early to drop off junk for free at ‘Pop-Up’ Surrey site

How do you get Surreyites out of the house early? Tell them where to get rid of all their unwanted junk – for free.

John Schneider

SURREY — How do you get Surreyites out of the house early on a Saturday morning? Tell them you know a place where they can get rid of all their unwanted junk – for free.

And so it was on a recent Saturday as the City of Surrey held its fourth “Pop-Up Junk Drop” at the Surrey Operations Centre yard in the 6500-block of 148th Street.

Although the event was set to start at 10 a.m., the lineup just to get in the yard stretched south down the hill to 64th Avenue, and north up the hill to 68th Avenue, or beyond, by 9:30 a.m.

Rob Costanzo (pictured) stood in the yard among the trailers, bins, excavators and scores of engineers working the event as the gates officially opened.

He looked simultaneously surprised and satisfied.

Costanzo is one of the drivers of this whole “junk drop” concept. He’s Surrey’s manager of engineering operations and he likes what he sees – because it’s far preferable to the alternative.

“These events are really being hosted to tackle the illegal dumping we have in the city,” he said. “Our costs have escalated significantly in the last 10 years. In 2005, we were at $500,000 (to clean up illegal dumping). We’re now upwards of a million dollars.”

Costanzo (pictured) points to two main factors for the increase.

“Number one: The cost of disposal is very high. Ten years ago, it was $65 a ton, today it’s over $130 a ton at a regional transfer station,” he said. “And there’s the convenience factor. We have just one transfer station in the City of Surrey, which is located at the top northeast corner of the city.”

The Pop-Up Junk Drop events are so popular that Costanzo and crew were forced to double available space after the first installment. Though they thought they’d see 500 to 700 vehicles at the first event, 2,000 showed up.

Costanzo said more than 260 tons of material was collected from about 3,300 vehicles in the first two events. And he says they “diverted just over 70 per cent of materials collected” and “hauled away over 30 loads of reusable material.”

John Schneider was among the many people who didn’t own a vehicle big enough for his junk. He rented a U-Haul trailer and hoped he’d get back for a second round.

“I have metal here, plastic, cardboard, furniture – a whole variety. My son has been after me to clean the house and get ready for moving. They want us to move closer to them. My wife has cancer, so we’re not sure what the situation will be.”

Danny Pereira was nearby, looking quite comfortable aboard his excavator. He normally uses the machine to “fix sewer systems” and “dig underground,” but today Pereira was busy scooping unsalvageable garbage from the pavement and dropping it into a very large bin.

It’s a relatively easy job, to be sure, though Pereira says the junk drop at least gives him a chance to “smash everything… that’s kind of fun.”

The next Pop-Up Junk Drop event is set for Saturday, Sept 17 and the final event is on Oct. 1 at Surrey Operations Centre, 6549 148th St. Click here for more information.

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