Dear PoP – Metro recycling, fact or myth?

Doorway People
Photo by PoPville flickr user Bogotron

“Dear PoP,

I get off at L’Enfant Plaza every morning for work. Two mornings in a row I have watched metro employees take the newspaper recycling bins and dump them in the trash bins. Does anyone know if this a problem at other metro stations?”

I’ve always been skeptical of some recycling efforts ever since I saw a whole floor of recycling (at a previous place of employment) get thrown into a trash can. With Metro I think it is even more difficult because, for some reason, I’ve seen folks throw garbage in the recycling bin. So does that destroy the whole recycling effort of that particular bin (if trash is co-mingled?).

11 Comment

  • This is a common misconception. Most of the time office cleaners (and I assume metro janitors) will put the bags in the same toter when emptying the trash and then seperate them later.

    Would you want to make two seperate trips or lug around two huge trash toters? Doubtful.

    • You know this for a fact? It makes sense, but if this is just speculation it would be worth stating.

    • Yes, most large office buildings have a ‘clear liner’ and a ‘black liner’ method.

      Also, if you stick around long enough you’ll see most cleaning staff in office buildings have a routine: Elevator to the top floor with the rolling carts. Collect all clear-liner recycling. Dust. Work their way down floor by floor. Empty recycling into dumpsters.. Elevator back to the top floor to collect black-liner trash. Clean kitchens and bathrooms. Vacuum. Work their way down floor by floor. Empty trash into dumpsters. It’s more economical this way because it uses the cart space, the supplies, and the elevators most efficiently.

      Most workers only stay late enough to see the first round, if that. They don’t stick around to see the second sweeps through the building, which happen in the late evening and wee hours of the morning. So they just assume the worst of the building management and the cleaning crews.

  • I’ve been under the impression for years the the floors of Metro trains and stations are newspaper recycling receptacles.

  • I see this happen too on the Metro…I asked the employee if he was recycling the newspaper and showed me that the newspaper bags were, indeed, separate from the the trash bags.

  • I’m shocked that people actually think that their “recycling” ends up being recycled.

    I would bet that 90% of what you separate out just gets thrown back in with all the other garbage at some point.

    The purpose of recycling, as a habit, is to give the person who recycles a positive self image.

  • Who do we call to have Krustie the Klown’s circus card revoked? No swaggering Klown should be so easily shocked or be such a pesimest.

    “I’m shocked that people actually think that their “recycling” ends up being recycled.”

  • The market for recycled paper products makes it worthless. The stuff used to be shipped to China. Now they have their own recycling efforts and don’t need ours anymore. As result, garbage gets buried, but paper just sits on open lots waiting for the market to improve. Sad.

  • Single stream recycling is pretty nifty, but I’m not sure if DC does it. In Philly, people complained that the recycling was going in the same place as the trash. Turns out, there were 2 reasons: the trucks did 2 rounds – once for trash and once for recycling. The recycling was all co-mingled and was seperated at the Blue Mountain (I think it was called) single stream recycling plant in South Philly.

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