BARBERTON, Ohio -- A FOX 8 I-TEAM hidden camera investigation has found local garbage collectors dumping recycling cans outside homes into the back of the same truck where they dump regular trash.
We saw it happening in Barberton, so we recorded it and started asking questions.
An I-TEAM photographer captured a crew dumping dark green cans holding trash into the back of a truck, and then moments later, we saw the same guys dump light green recycling cans in the same place. We even saw the crew put bulky furniture there.
People living in the area had seen the same thing for months.
Bonnie Petrie said, “They’re dumping regular trash in and recycling in and I’m thinking, ‘What?’”
The crews work for Kimble, a private company paid with taxpayer dollars by the city of Barberton to collect garbage and recycling there.
In fact, Raef Canter also recorded it happening on his cell phone. Canter said he actually called the company multiple times, and yet, he kept seeing the same thing. So, he turned to the I-TEAM.
“It’s all about what’s right. They get paid to do a job. Do it right," Canter said.
We approached the crew, and one worker told us, “I put the green cans, the dark cans with the trash in. We come back and get the recycling.”
When we pointed out what we had just seen, he responded, “You didn’t watch me do nothing.”
He also said, “Garbage is garbage.” He tried to tell us the trash and recycling gets separated later, even after getting crushed in the back of the big truck.
Finally, he and a partner insisted they only dump recycling cans and garbage cans together if there’s trash in the recycling cans.
But we checked back a couple of blocks and found virtually every can empty. So, that crew wants you to believe nearly every resident fills nearly every recycling can with trash.
And yet, we saw another Kimble truck collecting recycling and separating it as you’d expect.
The I-TEAM went to Kimble offices and we took our video to Barberton City Hall.
The company’s corporate headquarters told us recycling dumped directly with garbage does not get separated later. The company says it has had a problem with customers putting trash in recycling bins including toys, shingles, hoses, Christmas lights and more.
Nonetheless, Marc Valentin, Kimble VP of Waste and Recycling Operations, said, “My management team has gone ahead and talked to our drivers. There’s been some confusion.”
The company says crews are getting reminded that if they find junk or trash in a recycling bin, they should just leave it and put a tag on it. The tag tells customers what needs to be taken out of the bin. The company admits that should have been happening before.
Additionally, Kimble Company General Counsel Kenneth Vaughn sent a statement saying, in part, the company “is committed to recycling.” And, Kimble has been “working throughout the state to educate people” about the need for clean recyclables. Plus, the statement added, “the issue is not isolated to Kimble but is a national crisis...”
Bonnie Petrie and her daughter said they do their part to recycle and help the environment.
The city of Barberton released a statement to the I-TEAM thanking us for putting a spotlight on this and said the city is talking with the company.
Meantime, Canter hopes to see change. When we asked if he expects to see things change he said, “I hope so, now that you guys are involved.”
If you have questions about what you should or should not put into recycling, click here.