Is Your Recycling Actually Being Recycled?

After making the effort to separate and put out your recycling, what if you saw the people paid to collect it throwing it all away?

One woman in Portland, Maine, said she sees it happen all the time.

"I get really frustrated," said Mel May, who lives in Portland's West End. "It's like, 'Oh man, they're doing it again.'"

May said she has observed it happening repeatedly over the last three years. She said the garbage collectors come down her street, pick up the trash bins, but also take the recycling bins -- and throw everything into the same truck.

In Portland, a separate recycling truck is supposed to come by and take recyclables to the Eco Maine center for processing. May said that recycling truck never shows up.

"I have never seen a recycling truck on our dead end street here, ever," she said.

Upset to her efforts to recycle going to waste, she started to record the city workers on her cell phone. She sent the video to city staff, and to reporters.

"We're very disappointed," said Portland Public Services interim director Robert Leeman, who said the department is conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

"This is an unusual situation," said Leeman.

While May said it is common on her street, Leeman argued that the practice is not widespread.

"Our recycling is way up, we do a very good job at it," said Leeman.

The city provided a report by Eco Maine that shows Portland's recycling rates going up from 38 percent to 40 percent in the last year.

"Portland residents should have a lot of confidence in the city," said Leeman.

He added that it actually saves the city money to recycle instead of disposing the materials as waste. Leeman promises it won't happen again.

Contact Us