This late night bin law is really rubbish!

CANINE CULPRITS: Town´s Poop Patrol is a good idea.

AS A law-abiding citizen, I was concerned to discover that I may have inadvertently trespassed on the limits of the lengthy legal arm.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, as the motto goes, yet I thought that being non-violent, up to date with my taxes and never parking near a yellow line exonerated me from imminent incarceration. Apparently, not.

My crime? Taking my rubbish to the bin before 9pm. A local friend confirms that any disposal has to take place in the night time after this very hour and that serious fines would result if caught in the heinous act.

The basis of this law may be understandable, since the stench of a fish carcass roasting in the sun for a day is hardly desirable, but it is not helpful for single parents of small children, or the elderly who may struggle with walks in the dark or dusk. Or anyone who fears nocturnal outings from a personal safety point of view. 

In fact, I can only think of one segment of society that benefits from the odd intricacies of regulations surrounding refuse here in Spain — burglars who now have a sterling alibi for prowling the streets with their sacks of late-night ill-gotten gains, or other shady characters preying on citizens who follow the law and leave the security of their homes after dark to dispose of their household rubbish.

The strict dumping schedules do not, however, seem to impact the lax approach to the most common form of littering — that of dog poop. Perhaps the owners of the offending canines actually believe that Rex is capable of picking up after himself — either that or they simply don’t care one iota about others. 

Lamentably, they normally get away with it, too. Unless you live in a small Spanish town called Brunete, that is, where weary locals have literally taken the odorous matter into their own hands and set up a covert Poop Patrol of volunteers who secretly catch the culprits in the act and identify their masters.

Offending dog owners are then ‘reunited’ with their dog’s deposit, by hand-delivered return of the ‘lost property’. It seems that no one fancies feces by courier and the operation termed ‘Caca Express‘ has proven to be such a resounding success that the poop problem has fallen by 70 per cent in the area. If it saves even one pair of shoes from the dreadful tread, it is surely worthwhile and the scheme should be rolled out across the country. The battle against other ‘basura‘ continues to feature highly on politicians’ scorecards here in Spain.

In Palma de Mallorca a futuristic ‘pneumatic’ collection scheme was installed a decade ago at a cost of €23 million. Today these Dalek-esque devices line the avenues like relics from a bad science fiction movie, taped up and abandoned after technical problems – in favour of the trusted dumpster trucks and bins.  Personally, I think the best way to avoid the issue altogether is to follow in the ultra-green footsteps of those who somehow manage to reduce their personal garbage output to one bag each year.

My initial research suggests that this can only be achieved by moving into a hotel or dining out breakfast, noon and night. Other possibilities include edible wrapping, self-destructible packaging (once opened, hopefully) or forcefield protected goods that can be accessed at the scan of a bar code — all patents due to Expat Strife, of course.  

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