I-Team: GPS trackers follow your recycling — to a landfill

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CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I-Team just put GPS trackers in with recycling throughout Northeast Ohio to find out how much of your recycling is ending up in the garbage dump.

And our investigation shows, when some of you separate recycling from your trash, you’re simply wasting your time.

The I-Team planted secret spies in recycling. We put seven GPS trackers in recycling containers around the area. They sent a trail of electronic signals to show us: Where does this stuff really go?

First, Cleveland. A city crew picked up recycling with one of our trackers in Tremont. A satellite image showed that recycling went to a trash transfer station on Ridge Road. But, the signal then showed the tracker mixed in with other trash. And 72 hours later, it ended up in a landfill in Oberlin.

Meantime, week after week, we noticed garbage thrown into the recycling bin right below the Cleveland mayor’s office outside City Hall. So we put a tracker in there, too. And that ended up hauled away and later mixed in with trash headed to a landfill.

Mayor Frank Jackson responded, “I would say, I’m not surprised.”

He added, “At the end of the day, you’re making a point that we’re not disagreeing with." The mayor said again, what he told us months ago, Cleveland’s recycling system does not work.

Last spring, we revealed, of all recycling collected in the city, work crews dumped up to 90 percent of it in with regular trash.

Another tracker showed us where recycling went after getting picked up in Strongsville. The signal showed that it went to a recycling transfer station in Lorain County.

We also tried checking on recycling picked up in Streetsboro. However, we never saw the end of the line with that recycling. Our signal there died shortly after the recycling got picked up. The tracker may have been crushed.

Back in Cleveland, months ago, the city promised to hire a consultant to look at ways to fix the city’s recycling system. But City Hall is still in the process of hiring a consultant, and it may take another two months.

Still, the mayor said, "We have to fix our system, and our system is not functioning as it should because our ultimate goal is we want to recycle.”

Diana Allen lives on Cleveland’s west side, and she spends time trying to follow all of the rules for recycling. When we revealed the findings from our trackers to her she said, “I was really upset. I was really angry because here I am a senior, I’m doing all this, and they are just mixing it all up.” She added, "And that makes me mad. Like, who is running this city? Seriously.”

We also placed trackers in recycling in other communities, and we’ll reveal the results from those areas soon.

**Continuing coverage**

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