"The Gang Recycles Their Trash" is the second episode of the eighth season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
With the garbage men of Philadelphia on strike, Frank concocts a plan to undercut the union and get the contract to collect the city's trash. But when The Gang's elaborate plan starts to fall apart, everyone will get their hands a little dirtier than expected.
11:40 AM, On a Monday, Philadelphia, PA
[Note: There are many references to other episodes in this one, so this recap will note which show is being referenced as it goes.]
Dennis, Dee, and Mac are walking through the alley behind Paddy's, which is completely filled with trash. They talk about how Philadelphia's trash collectors are on strike. Dennis comments that it is a "sad, throwaway culture we live in" ("The Gang Finds a Dead Guy") and Mac tosses a soft drink cup he is drinking from aside. ("The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby") Dee comments that "I feel like you guys have done that before". Mac tells her "Shut up, bird", causing Dennis to laugh hysterically. ("Who Got Dee Pregnant?")
When they get into the bar, they see that the bar is just as full as the alley of trash. Charlie says there is no more room for trash outside. Frank is complaining that the garbage men are on strike even though they already make $20 an hour. Mac complains that the garbagemen are "blasting us in the ass", and Dennis joins in complaining about the "ass blasting". When Dee points out that he doesn't vote, Dennis says "Who am I supposed to vote for, the Republican blasting me in the ass or the Democrat blasting me in the ass?" (The whole "ass-blasting" exchange is word-for-word from "The Gang Runs for Office.") Dee again says that this is all sounding very familiar. Frank says that they should get into the trash business, because it's a "gold mine". ("The Gang Exploits A Miracle") Mac says that they should "pull up our bootstraps, oil up a couple of asses, and do a little plowing of our own." After clarifying that he is not talking about gay sex, he says "We're going to solve the trash crisis" (this is word-for-word from "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis"). Dee again says that this sounds familiar, and Charlie also tells her "Shut up, bird."
Frank lays out the plan for them: Mac, Charlie, and Dennis will get a van, and go around to rich people's homes and offer to take their trash, which they will take to a dump in New Jersey. ("The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore") Meanwhile, he will dress Dee up "like a whore" and bribe a city official into giving them the trash contract (It's a reversal of the plan in "The Gang Runs for Office", which was to get a bribe, but otherwise it's the same setup). Charlie notes that a previous attempt to "go door to door in a van" didn't work out ("The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis"), but Frank assures him this will work. Mac wants a trash truck so he can hang off the back, but Frank reminds him he doesn't want to be "caught scabbing." Dennis says he doesn't want to be a trash man, and he'll go bribe the city official with Frank. Frank tells him "We need a lady whore." (a reference to the fact that Dennis was a man-whore in "The Gang Gets Whacked"). Dee says she doesn't want to do "the whore thing" again, but Frank tells her "The whore thing worked. You just didn't listen to me." ("The Gang Runs for Office") Frank asks the rest of The Gang how often they do this sort of thing—they say a lot—and ask how often they work out—almost never. Frank says that the reason their schemes always fail is that they never listen to him, and this time they should do it his way.
At a car lot where they are shopping for a van, Dennis, Mac, and Charlie try to figure out the new group dynamic. Mac says that, apparently, Frank is now the brains and Dennis is just the "looks". Charlie says he's still the "wild card", but Dennis says that there is no benefit to having a "wild card" (this references all the discussion of The Gang's dynamics and roles in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis"). Charlie is apparently not listening to what they are saying at all. Dennis still says he doesn't like Frank's plan, because he still doesn't want to be a trash man, and Mac is still hung up on getting to hang from the back of whatever vehicle they use to haul the trash, which he will not be able to do from a van. Dennis and Mac are willing to bail on Frank's plan, but Charlie wants to see it through. Dennis suggests a "tweak" to the plan (a reference to Mac and Dennis "tweaking" Frank's Gun Shot idea with their Shot Gun in "Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens").
So they get a limousine, which they ride in wearing tuxedos (most directly a reference to "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare", or "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods"). Mac is hanging off the back, as he wanted. Dennis assures Charlie that they are still, essentially, doing Frank's plan, they're just "updating" it. In particular, he says that it's better to use a limo instead of a windowless van, because now people will think they'd get raped in such a van (a reference to Frank's "rape van" in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis").
Frank and Dee are having their meeting. Instead of being dressed like a whore, however, Dee is wearing a fairly conservative yellow suit. ("The Gang Gives Back") Dee tells Frank that his plans are "outdated", very similar to what Dennis said about them as well. Frank insists that she "sex up" her outfit, and grabs at her jacket trying to get her to open some buttons—and he tears off a sleeve in the process. The city official enters, and it turns out to be the businessman who had earlier tried to buy Paddy's to build an "Oldies Cafe" ("The Gang Sells Out"). He recognizes them, and so do both Dee and Frank—and Frank knows that he is gay, so the "sex appeal" angle won't work. Dee angrily tells Frank "Why don't you sex it up?" and grabs at his shirt. They get into a tussle that ends with Frank's shirt being ripped open. His chest (and moobs) exposed, Frank asks "You like what you see?" and starts dancing and flexing for the city official (a reference to Charlie, Dennis, and Mac ripping off their shirts for the loan officer in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis", and Frank's "I still got the moves" song references a similar song he sang after he banged The Waitress in "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom").
Charlie, Mac, and Dennis prepare to see their first prospective customer. Dennis tries to get everyone on the same page about what they will be doing. He asks if they will be doing accents, and both Charlie (who used a Texas accent in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" ) and Mac (who used a Swedish accent in "The Gang Gets Trapped") say they will. Dennis again says that they shouldn't use accents, or any other "wild card" activity. Mac reveals he has a knife, and Dennis tells them they can't have any wild card stuff. Dennis says he should talk, and so does Mac—but when Dennis points out the "exceptional number of bugs" in his teeth, they decide that maybe they need another plan. So Dennis says he has a plan where no one talks: instead, they sing to the homeowner. They start singing, but the homeowner stops them. They think that it's because the song is bad, but it turns out it's because the homeowner is thrilled about having her trash taken away. She asks how much, Dennis throws out $200 when it becomes clear they hadn't decided how much to charge, and the homeowner gladly agrees. (The way Dennis almost 'asks' if she'll pay $200 is the same tone used by the dealer that Dennis and Dee buy crack from in "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare", who also requests $200).
Frank and Dee take the city official to a strip club. This time, aware he's gay, Frank chooses an all-male strip club, but he doesn't seem any more thrilled to be there. Frank brings up the topic of "power bottoms", and Frank makes his pitch: they'll pick up the city's trash for half what the unions want. The city official tells them that there is no way they'll undermine such a powerful union, and a settlement for the strike is close at hand in any case. Frank offers to "hook him up", but the official just wants to leave. Frank doesn't understand why he isn't enjoying himself with all the "juicy dongs" around, and Dee says that she understands what's going on: he's been "realigned" and is a "yestergay" who has gone from a "twink" to a "twunk" and now a "twank" (a combination of "twink" and "skank"), who bounces from "twinks" to "bears" to "otters". Frank says he is confused by all the labels, and Dee says that it is hard for gay men to cope with as well, which is why some go to therapy to stop being gay. The city official confirms that he is still gay. Frank is surprised he's still there, and the official reminds him he's pointing a gun at him. After that, Dee and Frank leave the strip club. (This whole scene is a reference to the disastrous trip to a titty bar in "The Gang Sells Out".)
Dennis, Charlie, and Mac's limousine trash pickup service is a success. (The music, and the shots of them in the limo throwing around money, references a sequence in "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare"). They decide that though they love the money, they don't love being trashmen—their tuxes are filthy, and the limo is covered with trash and seagull shit. They agree to ditch Frank's plan, but they decide to revive an older plan—selling gas door to door. ("The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis") They also decide to just dump the trash they have in a poor neighborhood rather than driving it to Jersey. They celebrate their new plan with a rousing chorus of "The Boys Are Back In Town" ("Dennis Gets Divorced"). A bit of a sour note is hit, however, when Mac attempts to kiss Dennis (a reference to Dennis and Charlie's conclusion that Mac wants to bang them in "Mac's Banging the Waitress").
The sanitation workers are having a rally, at which it is announced they are going back to work and a new contract is being finalized. When the union head announces that they had to make "compromises", Frank tries to stir up dissent. He grabs the mic and calls the contract "bullshit" and says that they need to "keep the strike going". He fails to whip the crowd into a frenzy, though, and they demand he let the union head finish and explain the contract. At that point, Dee, dressed as Martina Martinez (one of the rather racist characters Dee plays in her miguided attempt to become a YouTube star in "America's Next Top Paddy's Billboard Model Contest"), shows up, takes the mike, and tells the crowd they are getting "screwed". When the union head tries to take the mic back, "Martina" starts screaming that she is being raped, making him back off. She tries to inflame racial tensions, pointing out that the santiation workers, who are almost entirely black or Latino, are out there working while white men negotiate their contract. That starts to get the workers fired up, until she uses the rather offensive stereotype of them throwing their orange and grape sodas on the ground. But just as she is losing them, she points them towards the sight of Dennis, Mac, and Charlie throwing their trash out of their limo to the street. "Martina" points out that this shows how the white man has no respect for them or their neighborhoods. She tells the crowd to go get them.
Dennis, Mac, and Charlie are practicing a new song about "Classy Gas" they will use for their gas selling plan, but their rehearsal is interrupted by the sight of an angry mob. They seek refuge in the limo, which the crowd is rocking back and forth angrily.
Later, they return to Paddy's Pub. Frank demands to know why they were dumping the trash there, and Charlie says they woud have been OK if Dee hadn't "incited a race war". They tell Frank they were going back to the plan to sell gas door to door. They decide to just give up on the whole thing, and have some beer, which leads to them just sitting there in silence, drinking beer (resembling the opening of "Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games"). They suddenly come up with a new plan to get rugs for the bar. Frank says he has a "rug guy" (a reference to the various "guys" he has, mentioned in "The Nightman Cometh" and "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters" particularly) and Dee says they should put on a play about rug salesmen (probably most directly a reference to "The Nightman Cometh") but Charlie tells them that they give up on their plans too easily. Charlie says that they just need to make some adjustments to their plan, and they can still solve this trash crisis.
So they get a new rape van, and go out collecting trash again. They seem to have everything figured out, and it looks like the plan will be a success. And then Charlie reveals that he once again is acting as a "Wild Card", and that he has cut the brakes of the van, and with a hearty "WILDCARD, BITCHES!" he jumps out the back of the van. ("The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis") The Gang acts panicked, but then they immediately calm down. It turns out they saw this coming, and had the brakes fixed. With the Wild Card out of the picture, the plan might work.
And it would have too—except that as soon as they get their first customer, they see a trash truck rolling down the street. The strike is over. So they decide to give the rug plan a go. Mac says "We should get a billboard... " ("America's Next Top Paddy's Billboard Model Contest")
- Charlie Day as Charlie Kelly
- Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds
- Rob McElhenney as Mac
- Kaitlin Olson as Dee Reynolds
- Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds
- Richard Ruccolo as Corporate Rep
- Peter Holden as Union Delegate
- Kristin Carey as Rich Housewife
- Robert Keith Wyatt as Picketer #1
- Antonio D. Charity as Picketer #2
- Initially, this episode was supposed to be the season premiere. It was moved from the premiere slot at the request of FX, who thought that this would not be an episode really suited for new viewers turning in to catch the season premiere, due to all the callbacks to previous episodes.
- Danny DeVito posted a photo from the set on his Twitter on August 3, 2012.
- Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson's oldest son Axel Lee is "obsessed with trash trucks" - that's one of the reasons why his daddy wrote this episode. ["...so we could have a trash truck on set and he could spend at least three or four hours with it. <...> It's going to blow his mind."]
- The episode can be seen as an ironic take on that staple of sitcoms, the "clip show", in which excerpts from previous episodes are shown. There actually was a clip show in the previous season, "How Mac Got Fat", but that episode used clips from an unaired episode, so that wasn't a traditional clip show.
- This episode along with, America's Next Top Paddy's Billboard Model Contest, Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth, The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6, and Dee Day were removed from streaming platforms, such as Hulu, Due to the use of black face.
- This episode refers back to earlier Sunny jokes, with the main plot being a nod to the 4th Season's "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis". Glenn Howerton said what episode was thrown in as a wink to fans: "That was the only episode where we sort of address where these characters have been. It was kind of, I guess, our version of a flashback episode in a way - revisiting some territory and retreading territory, but that was just something we did for fun". The multiple hints to the previous episodes are listed here:
- Mac, Dee, and Dennis walking through the alley, with Mac tossing away his Big Gulp just like in the beginning of "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby";
- "It's a sad, throwaway culture we live in" is Charlie's line from "The Gang Finds a Dead Guy";
- Dee's allusion to a bird is said quite often.
- Dennis talking about politicians "blasting him in his ass" just like in "The Gang Runs for Office", as well as Frank's suggestion for Dee to be dressed as a whore.
- "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" references include: Mac clarifying his innuendo-filled plan as "Not gay sex", the "group dynamic" where the guys see themselves as **Brains, Looks and Wild Card**, Charlie's southern accent, going door to door, and the use of the Ghostbusters theme song.
- Mac's accent stems from "The Gang Gets Trapped".
- The Gang was shown being bored in "Chardee MacDennis".
- Tuxedos and limo both appeared in two previous episodes: "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods" and "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare".
- The yellow suit Dee is wearing in the city official's office was first seen in "The Gang Gives Back".
- The Gay-classification conversation is a reference to "The Gang Sells Out".
- The song "The Boys are Back in Town" was used in Dennis and Dee's Mom Is Dead and Dennis Gets Divorced.
- Dee's character "Martina Martinez" from America's Next Top Paddy's Billboard Model Contest makes a return, also in the very end of the episode Mac exclaim's "We should get a billboard!".
- Frank refuses to work in the same team with Dennis and says "I need a lady-whore" - is a reference to the times when Frank was Dennis' pimp in "The Gang Gets Whacked."
- Frank calls the Philly trashmen "these trash bozos" - bozo is one of Mac's words used previously in "The Gang Hits the Road" and "The High School Reunion."
- Frank's dancing and singing "I still got the moves... " - that's a reference to his famous "Go For It"-dance from the "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom".
- Previously, seagulls were often mentioned on the show - in "The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis", "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", and "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties." (They were seen in "The Gang Buys a Boat," but not as a part of a general plot line.)
- The Gang did a cappella vocalizations in "The Gang Goes Jihad" and "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia."
- Frank and Charlie's obsession with trash was a major theme of a 3rd Season premiere "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby" (for a brief time they even turned into a pair of homeless people).
- Frank mentions that he has a "rug guy" - In "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters" he explained that he has "a guy for everything".
- The title itself is a possible wink at the re-using of plot points and quotes. (The Gang "Recycles Their Trash", as in they recycle old material)
From an extended take:
- Frank: (dancing in ripped shirt) Like what you see? Huh?
- Corporate Rep: Why would I like that?!
|—||“(as Martina Martinez) Now, why is it that my Latino and my proud African brothers gotta be doin' all the work while these cracker-ass bitches doin' the negotiatin'?”|
|“What are you doing?”||—|
|—||“(in her normal voice) Just go with it. (Going back to the Martina Martinez voice) Lemme ax you somethin'. Why we got to be the trashmen, and the maids, and the gardeners, hmm?”|
(The crowd voices its approval)
|—||“Why we got to live next to the trash dumps and the ghettos? We deserve better!”|
(The crowd's approval grows more vocal)
|—||“When was the last time a white lady pick up after you when you threw your orange soda and your grape sodas on the ground?”|
(The crowd goes silent)
|“You're losing them...”||—|
|—||“Some cocks can't be unsucked.”|
|Season 8 Episodes|
| 1. "Pop-Pop: The Final Solution"|
2. "The Gang Recycles Their Trash"
3. "The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre"
4. "Charlie and Dee Find Love"
5. "The Gang Gets Analyzed"
| 6. "Charlie's Mom Has Cancer"|
7. "Frank's Back in Business"
8. "Charlie Rules the World"
9. "The Gang Dines Out"
10. "Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense"