South Florida Garbage Workers Caught Mixing Recyclables With Trash

Hollywood boasts a robust recycling program, with a 130 percent increase in use since 2010.

Residents even get gift cards, coupons or other bonuses based on how much recycling they put into the blue trash bins that lines city streets on pick-up days.

But the environmentally-conscious Hollywooders may be discouraged if they actually follow the Waste Pro trash trucks hired by the city to divert recyclables away from landfills.

NBC 6 Investigators did and watched as one blue bin after another was dumped into the same garbage truck used to receive the contents of the dark bins containing regular waste.

“That is a direct violation of our contract,” said Sylvia Glaser, the city’s public works director, after viewing NBC 6 Investigators video of city contractors co-mingling waste.

The city has a contract with Waste Pro to collect refuse from more than 34,000 homes a year.

Rhonda Thompson does her part, isolating plastic bottles because, she said, “it’s good for the environment."

Glaser, of course knows why: “When you put plastic in a landfill, that plastic does not decompose. It stays there for hundreds of years."

While she could not say whether the disregard for recycling is common in the city, Glazer said the city did get two complaints about the co-mingling of trash and recyclables earlier this year.

“We had an incident or two of a driver that mixed some material and in fact they were caught and that driver was disciplined and the company was fined,” she said.

According to Waste Pro, that discipline consisted of a warning and all employees had to sign a memo informing them mixing trash with recyclables “will result in immediate termination."

The fine the company had to pay the city: $50.

The company called it an “isolated incident."

But NBC 6's cameras caught two crews engaging in the illicit practice. A Hollywood resident recorded video of a third crew co-mingling materials.

“It’s sad,” said Thompson, lamenting the impact on landfills. “I’ve lived in Broward County my entire life and I’ve seen especially the one in north Broward get bigger and bigger, and you know, it’s never going away."

The city said it plans to seek heftier fines going forward and further violations could lead to Waste Pro losing its contract.

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