Professional Garbologist

Professional Garbologist


14 Years Experience

Harrisburg, PA

Female, 48

No, really, I am a state employee working in our Environmental Protection program. I have worked in the Waste Management program for nearly fifteen years. I have looked at the waste handling practices from about any type of facility you can think of, from food producers to hospitals to plating shops, and where the waste goes, like incinerators and landfills. My days are rarely dull, as I supervise ten inspectors and am usually the regulatory tie-breaker. My ideal day is a day in the field.

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26 Questions


Last Answer on November 05, 2019

Best Rated

Where does all the biohazard waste from hospitals end up?

Asked by Yechhhh almost 8 years ago

Under our regs in PA, most of the bio waste from medical facilities is required to be made unrecognizable by shredding, incineration, or shrinkwrapping. All of it must be sterilized prior to final disposition of the waste or the incineration ash in a sanitary landfill. There are more facilities that incinerate the waste to produce energy coming on line as well.

What was the grossest thing you've ever come across in this job? And are you just totally desensitized to that kinda stuff at this point?

Asked by J's mom almost 8 years ago

I'd have to say the one of the worst things I've seen was the unsucessful attempt at a cow compost pile at a farm. I was there looking at the other end of the pile originally, which was the trash-burning end. I walked around to see the scrap metal section of the pile, and after seeing it I just happened to look up above my head and there was a leg sticking out of the side of the "mulch" part of the pile. Yikes! I can say that I've been around the block enough that I'm ready for a snack after visiting the landfill. Some kind of weird Pavlovian reaction, I guess. Gross, eh?

Where does the whole Waste Management / Mafia stereotype come from? And have you ever dealt with any real mob guys?

Asked by Paulie Walnutz almost 8 years ago

There are days I wonder... I have asked the theorhetical question of my landfill managers, which makes them stop in their tracks, but no, we've never come across any bodies.

What do city garbageman get paid?

Asked by karendreyfus almost 8 years ago

Whatever the prevailing union wage is, usually.

Of all the types of facilities you visit, which are typically the most unsanitary in terms of waste handling? Who are the "problem children?"

Asked by Oscar almost 8 years ago

I'd say that the worst "children" are the ones that try to recycle odd things, such as metal-bearing sludges, or those that accumulate things like tires with all the best intentions. They feel they are going to make money when the "market is up", but most of the time they just make a big mess that gets them in trouble.

Do you even smell the stench when you walk into treatment facilities anymore, or do you not even notice it? Does it stay on you when you leave and do other people notice?

Asked by orna_paul almost 8 years ago

I still smell it every time, but after the first few minutes, you really don't notice it any more. I can sometimes catch a whiff after the fact, but I don't think anyone but me picks up on it. The smell that keeps on giving is burnt shingles, can't escape that one!

Is it true that leftover food from restaurants somehow makes its way to farm animals?

Asked by Tamir almost 8 years ago

Absolutely! I see it more from the food processing facilities. Guess it beats taking it to the landfill. I'll be honest, though, I get concerned about the nutritional level of some things...