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Woman fined for clearing bottles near playground

The Local · 18 Oct 2012, 11:33

Published: 18 Oct 2012 11:33 GMT+02:00

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Cornelia Gebhard-Schollwoeck decided to do something about the growing collection of discarded bottles around the glass recycling container in her street in Frankfurt, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported on Thursday.

The street was partially blocked by road-works, meaning the large glass collection truck had not been able to empty the container for several weeks, the paper said, and people were simply leaving their bottles on the ground.

“I was simply worried that children could hurt themselves,” said Gebhard-Schollwoeck, pointing out that the container was not only outside her house but also next to the entrance to a kindergarten and a playground.

She said she collected dozens of bottles into rubbish sacks and took them in her car to another glass recycling container several hundred metres away. But because she had cut her own hand putting the bottles into the sacks, she did not put them into the container, but left the sacks next to it.

She soon received mail from the local authorities accusing her of illegal rubbish disposal, and despite her explanation of the case, she was hit with a fine for €243.50.

Gebhard-Schollwoeck has appointed a lawyer to fight the fine, saying, “I was helping, and do not want to be punished for that.”

A spokesman for the local authority would not comment on the case as it was ongoing.

Peter Postleb from the city authority’s “Clean Frankfurt” initiative, told the Frankfurter Rundschau he could understand Gebhard-Schollwoeck’s annoyance, but said it was clear she should not have left the bottles by the container.

Story continues below…

“It would have been better to call the rubbish services which would have ensured the bottles would have been removed from near the playground,” he said.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:22 October 18, 2012 by keeps71
Ha! How did they know it was her? Did she leave her name and address on the black bag or did someone see her and shop her to the authorities? Remarkable. Authorities should be fined for not clearing bottles away.
12:24 October 18, 2012 by wood artist
Once again officialdom demonstrates that common sense is not a common commodity. SIGH!

13:19 October 18, 2012 by adipk
Most of the Time one can observe old guys (oma and Opa) in balkon or windows. They have nothing to do except calling police or authorities regarding such incidence or rash driving or immigrant's children shouting on road. hahhahaha
14:11 October 18, 2012 by MaKo
Gosh! I hope she at least brought the bottles to the container during the officially sanctioned hours, otherwise she may find herself in even more trouble!
14:11 October 18, 2012 by Dizz
Man these stories depress me. My daughter is being raised a German. At 3 years old she is wonderfully cheerful, considerate and creative. And they are going to grind it out of her because the most cherished value in this country is to be conformist. Any show of initiative is discouraged and as we just read, punished.

¦quot;It would have been better to call the rubbish services which would have ensured the bottles would have been removed from near the playground,¦quot; . .
15:20 October 18, 2012 by XFYRCHIEF
I remember a story back a year or more about a German businessman who was detained by police in the US as he didn't have any identification on him. People on this blog criticized the police for a lack of common sense. But, when I read stories like this, or people having to pay for insulting someone, I realize the Germans are so regulated its unreal. I wonder, do Germans have to make a reservation to go to the toilet? Are there "dumping" hours for this?
15:25 October 18, 2012 by Bulldawg82
No good deed goes unpunished.
16:38 October 18, 2012 by Englishted
Hold on if she cut her hand putting the bottles into the sacks the bottles were broken and then in a plastic sack ,if the town hall worker picked up the sack without knowing the bottles inside were broken he/she could have a very nasty accident .Don't ever put broken glass in plastic sacks it is downright dangerous.
19:11 October 18, 2012 by Steve1949
@Englishted................Your wise words of wisdom are duely noted. Broken glass in plastic sacks are probably not as dangererous as broken glass laying all over the pavement where one could step in it or a child could get hurt by it. Regardless. Typical dumb German response from the city to fine this woman for doing something that the city should have taken care of in the first place.
21:11 October 18, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Bottles are usually picked up by the pensioners for the deposit. Maybe the city have decided to save money and leave it to the pensioners. What a cost saving measure thought up by some city genius. Make pensioners hungry by not allowing pensions to keep rate with inflation and then save on the bottle collections from the park. Only trouble is how are the city going to warn and fire these pensioners. Could always make it a 400EUR job to supervise them and make sure they collect the bottles correctly and efficiently. The efficient German machine keeps marching along.
23:13 October 18, 2012 by catjones
Where would DL be without Rules. Serves her right.
14:37 October 19, 2012 by charlenej
I agree, Dizz. I worry about that, too.
14:57 October 19, 2012 by rmsbl4
@ Berlin fuer alles Broken bottles will not get you the deposit back.
15:25 October 19, 2012 by wendyb
The poor woman is being fined for being a good citizen. This is the most bizarre thing I have ever heard.
15:50 October 19, 2012 by glenhope
¦quot;It would have been better to call the rubbish services which would have ensured the bottles would have been removed from near the playground,¦quot;

Why didn't the council put up a notice on the containers to this effect?

How did they find her? Perhaps they spent thousands collecting a sample of her blood and sent it for DNA testing.

Technically, if rubbish eg bottles are left on the street, which is responsibility of the council and anyone is hurt by them, they can claim compensation from the council.

Anyone heard of the "Liverpool trip"
22:47 October 19, 2012 by AClassicRed
@XFYRCHIEF I think the one you might be referring to was a German businessman in Alabama, an executive in one of the German auto factories there, who was pulled over and detained because he didn't have a driver's license on him though he was driving. Standard procedure, although sure, they might not have arrested him but only listened to then tried to substantiate his story before doing so.

But I agree with you, this story just really is indicative of the bureaucracy of Germany, and somewhat chilling. The stance is basically encouraging people to do nothing motivation and right, but instead penalizing for taking positive initiative. It is not a directed slight, but as a researcher for almost two decades of pre- and post-WW2 Germany and a Psychology major, the German character in general continues to show and support how something like the Holocaust took place.

There is a propensity for people to blind themselves to rightness, goodness and morality in favor of going strictly by whatever rule is currently in place. Besides being willing to righteously synch on anyone who does differently, as to trace this woman, someone would have had to, for her to be cited.
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