I-TEAM secretly investigates recycling in more Northeast Ohio towns

Data pix.

CLEVELAND - An exclusive FOX 8 I-TEAM investigation secretly followed even more of your recycling. We put GPS trackers inside recycling and kept watching to find out where does it go.

The trail of our trackers is now leaving some people from yet another local community wondering why they make the effort to recycle.

We checked a public recycling drop off in Medina County. We placed the tracker in a bin on a Thursday, and the signal showed it got picked up on a Saturday morning. The tracker went to several others locations in Medina County before stopping at a parking lot, later Saturday morning. The signal does not pick up again until 2:37 a.m. on Monday, at which it shows the signal coming from a landfill.

The idea that recycling ends up in a landfill gets under the skin of some folks in Medina County.

"We recycle for a reason," one woman told the I-TEAM.

We previously showed you how a tracker placed in recycling outside a residence in Cleveland ended up in a landfill. A tracker placed in a recycling bin outside City Hall even ended up mixed with trash.

Cleveland's mayor has admitted the city's recycling program is not working. But what about in Medina County?

We went to the Medina County Solid Waste District, the agency that oversees drop off bins like the one where we placed the tracker. The district contracts with a private hauler to take away the recycling. We showed an official where the tracker in Medina County ended up.

"Before I draw any conclusions I'd like to do some investigation," said Elizabeth Biggins-Ramer, of the Medina County Solid Waste District.

She checked with the private hauler. We later were told the private hauler said the items from the recycling bin were taken to a recycling transfer station and then "residue" or items not recyclable were taken to a landfill. This could be why our tracker, which is not recyclable was taken to the landfill.

However, the Medina County tracker data did not show it going to a transfer station and then to the landfill. It's possible the GPS signal dropped out temporarily and didn't pick up again until the landfill. But consider, the data from the tracker in Cleveland showed it going to a transfer station and then to a landfill.

Altogether, the I-TEAM put seven trackers in recycling bins throughout northeast Ohio. We followed the signals, showing three went into the trash. Another appeared to get crushed getting hauled away. The other three, one in Strongsville and two in Summit County, went where they were expected to go, to recycling transfer centers.

A non-profit group has been working with residents and city officials in Akron, hoping to improve recycling habits.

Officials in Akron applied and received a grant to help educate residents about what can be recycled and what should be thrown in the trash. The goal is to try and cut down on how much recycling ends up in the trash.

Just as we have seen in Cleveland, Akron also has had trouble with garbage contaminating recycling.

Meantime, Cleveland has talked about hiring a consultant to help fix the system there. But after several months of talking about hiring a consultant, the city still has not done that. The mayor and a top aide now say they hope to move forward on that by the end of the year.

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