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You might have noticed the pink and purple containers dotting the landscape of Putnam County. But don’t let those cheerful, bright colors fool you; the cans may be cute, but they are hard workers.

With the average American generating around a ton of trash every year, the amount of waste we cram into our trash containers every day would probably boggle our minds.

It might not astonish Ernest and Heidi Cummings, though. That is because, as owners of Cummings Rubbish Removal, they empty those pink and purple receptacles every week.

“The purple bin is for trash and the pink bin is for recycling,” Heidi explains. “One way that we are different from other waste companies is that we recycle 90% of the rubbish that we haul away.”

Cummings Rubbish Removal allows customers to dispose of all of their plastic, glass, aluminum, steel, cardboard, and paper (including junk mail, newspaper, and catalogs) in one bin.

“We offer single-sort recycling, which means customers don’t have to pre-sort their recyclables by category,” Ernest says. “Ultimately, we hope that this encourages more people to recycle, because we do the work for them.”

Hard-working. If the pink and purple cans are hard-working, the Cummings family is much more so.

That is because Cummings Rubbish Removal is a locally owned and operated company, located at 124 Locust St. in Hurricane since 1945. Ernest and Heidi are locals, who are serving the community of which they themselves are members.

When you call the office, Heidi or her assistant Amanda will answer the phone. When you see the Cummings Rubbish Removal vehicle lumbering down your street on collection day, it is not rare to see Ernest driving the truck.

“My family has served this community for over fifty years,” Ernest boasts. “My father’s and grandfather’s trucks went up and down the same streets mine does today.”

In 1956, Ernest’s grandfather (also named Ernest) founded Cummings Collection Services with his wife, Carrie, whose brother Eugene Sowards owned and operated Sycamore Land Fill (today, Republic Waste). In 1977 Ernest and his son Robert Cummings built the disposal service landfill (today owned by Waste Management of West Virginia).

When the Cummings family eventually sold the family business to Waste Management in 2008, it seemed as if memories were all they had left. And as a family, they had many good memories to celebrate.

Like driving one of their trucks in the City of Hurricane’s parade for the 50th anniversary of Cummings Collection Service.

Or restoring a 1956 garbage truck identical to the very first one they had used (S-160 International with a 16-yard E-Z Pack Side Loader) and taking it to the Waste Pro Garbage Truck Museum in Sanford, Florida (incidentally, this is the only garbage truck museum in America and it features original and restored waste collection trucks.)

It seemed for awhile like memories and a truck in a museum were all that the Cummings family had left of their past, but Ernest and Heidi knew that their time would come to get their hands dirty, too, so to speak.

It wasn’t until 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, that the opportunity presented itself. The opportunity to revive the family legacy of hard work and service to the Hurricane community.

“My family serviced this area for 50 years,” Ernest says, “and now we, the third generation, are serving the area again with the same family values that my grandfather and father established.”

“We are a dependable, full-service waste and recycling hauler,” Heidi chimes in. “Our office is open Monday through Friday from 8-4, but our trucks are out working hard every day and on every holiday except Christmas.”

Besides residential trash and recycling services, Cummings Rubbish Removal also offers curbside yard waste collection and pickup of large items like furniture, mattresses, and appliances.

“We also have an assortment of dumpsters,” Ernest notes. “We offer small commercial dumpsters for the use of local businesses. We have medium dumpsters for folks who are remodeling or cleaning out their homes. And we have the large dumpsters that are best used for cleaning up after demolition.”

Heidi adds, “You can rest assured that everything you dispose of, whether residential or commercial, trash or recycling, will be handled in the most responsible manner possible.”

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