OCOEE –– For some, sifting through information about proper recycling practices and keeping up with new policies and procedures can become a tedious task.
Some might even relate to feelings of fatigue when learning about the various rules that govern proper recycling etiquette and give up entirely or resort to posting a social-media rant — particularly if it feels like one’s efforts to be a responsible citizen is being hindered by sanitation workers who dump non-recyclable items they find in a recycling bin on the curb.
But that’s exactly what Ocoee resident Danna Houghtaling and others who expressed their outrage on the Ocoee Rants, Raves and Reviews Facebook page, said happened to them.
“That morning, I saw the recycling truck pull up, and the next thing I know, he was throwing garbage out of the recycling bin, and by the time I put my shoes on to go outside and see what he was doing, he was gone,” Houghtaling said. “But there were newspapers and boxes strewn all over the street that were previously in my recycling bin. No note or anything.”
Previously, Houghtaling said, she’d been left a note informing her plastic bags were not allowed in the bin and she stopped including them, but after sifting through her garbage that day to figure out what she’d done wrong, she was still perplexed and decided to call the city’s sanitation supervisor, Ronald Moore.
Thirty minutes later, Moore arrived and informed her the plastic toy lawnmower she had placed in the bin was a non-acceptable item for recycling and that the sanitation worker is instructed to take out non-recyclable items from a bin.
After Houghtaling shared her experience on social media, which she said ended with the presence of law enforcement and the alleged use of a vulgar hand gesture from the sanitation supervisor, many sympathized with her experience, claiming similar scenarios had happened to them.
City officials mentioned Houghtaling’s story during a City Commission meeting in May and said they would make extra efforts to educate residents about recycling protocols.
“Ocoee has the (recycling) program information on our website,” said Steve Krug, Ocoee’s public works director. “We have included articles in the city’s quarterly News to You/Ocoee Connections mailers, provided inserts in the water bills, attached the information to recycle carts and door to door education.”
Krug emphasized how important education is when it comes to recycling to make sure residents’ efforts are in vain. In Orange County, if there are non-recyclable items in a recycling cart, the cart is tagged and left behind for the customer, said Orange County Spokeswoman Jamie Floer. If a truckload is contaminated with 15% or more of the wrong items, she added, that load can be rejected and end up in the landfill, wasting residents’ efforts.
“Education is very important as a single non-recyclable item in a truckload can cause a whole truck to be considered ‘contaminated’ and rejected, wasting the efforts of those who properly recycle,” Krug said.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]