Peggy Guthrie always has a sweet smile on her face even when she admits she smells a little sour.
The El Dorado Disposal recycling center attendant in El Dorado Hills confessed, “My perfume at the end of the day is sticky soda, stale beer and sour milk.”
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a very dirty, smelly, sticky and slimy job but I love it,” Guthrie said. “It’s more fun than work.”
For nearly four years Guthrie has made recycling in El Dorado Hills fun for everyone who drives through her open gate. The center at 4421 Latrobe Road, open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, buys back aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles and also accepts other recyclable cardboard, paper and plastics along with e-waste — all free of charge. El Dorado Hills residents (only) may also drop off their green waste for free.
Whether you’ve got a truck bed full or a few cans and bottles rolling around your truck, Guthrie will take it.
“I love recycling with a passion; it’s not just a job,” she said. “Only 75 percent of the world recycles. I think I learned that on The Weather Channel. We’ve got to get the other 25 percent recycling.”
Guthrie advocates teaching children the importance of recycling. Her motto is: “A family that recycles together stays together” and she applauds organizations like Cub Scouts and school groups that include recycling in their curriculum — even when they bring her four loads of recyclables when her bins are full and she has to call for help.
The recycling guru gives El Dorado Hills good marks, noting that when she transferred to the community’s recycling center from Cameron Park in September 2008 it could take up to a month to fill a bin. Now it’s less than two weeks. Guthrie said the financial benefits of recycling bring more people to her center.
“There are a lot of people who always recycle curbside but have never taken recycling to a CRV center,” she said. “You get good money.”
Guthrie hands out vouchers to customers recycling eligible cans, glass and plastic. Customers redeem them at a nearby gas station. She said Tuesdays and Saturdays are her busiest days. Winters are steady but things really pick up in the summer months — more parties, camping trips and events, Guthrie noted.
Coming from the generation that always stays busy, Guthrie doesn’t let a slow day slow her down. “There’s always trash to pick up along the fence … weeds to pull,” she said. “I never let my customers see me sitting down. Even at lunch I don’t sit down.”
She doesn’t let the weather bother her either. She’s endured wind, rain and even snow without a worry, explaining, “I have good rain gear.”
Guthrie, a Placerville resident, started her career with El Dorado Disposal in January 2002, working first on the sorting line at the transfer station in Placerville and later at the recycling center in Cameron Park before her manager Albert Magallanez asked her to take over El Dorado Hills’ recycling center.
Magallanez said Guthrie is a great representative of El Dorado Disposal, which is owned by Waste Connections Inc. “Her people skills are amazing,” he said.
Frequent customer Henry Kreutzer of El Dorado Hills thinks so too. “She’s a good lady,” he said as he and Guthrie dumped squished cans into bins to be weighed. “She does everything by the book.”
Guthrie shrugs off the compliments and goes back to work.
“I never thought I would have a job out in the weather … a job that’s so physical but it’s worth it,” Guthrie said. “This is where I want to be.”