5 On Your Side

Recycling becomes battle for Wake County family

Posted May 20, 2009

— Recycling is a way of life for Jim Jackson and his family. They think about everything they throw away.

“It’s really important to us,” Jackson said.

The family even brings paper and cardboard to a Raleigh recycling center because their trash company, Shaw Sanitation, doesn't pick it up.

Shaw Sanitation Trash collector accused of mixing trash and recycling

One can imagine their surprise when they realized even though Shaw picks up separated glass and plastic, it doesn’t stay separated.

“The trash truck pulls up and the recycling bin's sitting there next to the trash bin,” Jackson said. “The yellow bin is the recycling bin.

“The collector picks up the bin and you’ll hear it (glass)…bottles and everything right in the back of the packer,” Jackson said. “Trash goes in next and it all goes in one place and that's the end of it.”

Jackson pays Shaw Sanitation an extra $48 a year for recycling, but he said it isn’t about the money.

“How many customers are collecting their recycling all week and hauling it out to the curbs, separating everything out, rinsing the bottles...and then to have the trash truck come and throw it in the trash,” Jackson said. “It’s pathetic.”

Three other Shaw customers complained to 5 on Your Side. In Wake Forest, a customer said collectors "dumped all the items in our recycling bin into the back of the garbage truck."

A Fuquay-Varina customer said their recycling was "thrown in the same truck as the...garbage." And in Raleigh a customer said, "I am paying for an extra service that does not exist."

WRAL showed video of the collectors mixing the trash and recycling items to Shaw's Vice President of Operations Harry Jeffreys. He said he was not surprised.

Although he wavered on how often it happens, Jeffreys says his company sometimes combines trash and recyclables on routes where recycling participation is low.

Jeffreys later faxed a 30 page list of the routes impacted. None of the complainants who contacted WRAL were on that list.

Either way, Jeffreys claims the recyclables are still recycled.

“The recycling is not taken to the landfill. It's taken to our site and it’s processed,” Jeffreys said.

Jeffreys said processing means someone sifts through and pulls out the regular trash. At the plant, he showed 5 on Your Side that someone opens the tailgate of the truck and picks out the recycable items.

“We see that we get even more because we find stuff that people are throwing away,” Jeffreys said.

Jeffreys claims it’s more cost effective than sending a separate recycling truck.

“The fuel, the tires, the truck itself, the mechanical part…the hours…it’s just more efficient for us to pick through the trash,” Jeffreys said.

On Wednesday, Shaw President Nancy Shaw sent an e-mail to WRAL News stating it is not company policy to mix recycling with garbage.

“Currently we pick up one low-density trash and recycling route with the same truck. The recycling is to be put in the front of the packing units through the side door. This recycling is removed from the truck at Shaw’s facility prior to dumping the garbage. This has given the impression to some of our recycling customers and the public that our policy is to mix recycling with garbage. This is not our policy,” Shaw wrote.

“All of our regular routes are picked up by separate garbage and recycling trucks. To resolve this issue we will service the low-density route with separate garbage and recycling trucks,” Shaw continued.

Employees who do not follow the policy “will be disciplined and if necessary terminated,” she said.

Paul Crissman, section chief of the Solid Waste Management at the NC Division of Waste Management, said Wednesday businesses must have a special permit to separate garbage and recycling. Shaw Sanitation does not have that permit. Shaw said that is one more reason why her company won't do that anymore.

Jackson just wants to know he’s really recycling.

"I don't want to get anybody in trouble. I want them to do it the way it should be done,” Jackson said.

Across the state curbside recycling has continued to climb. Numbers show more than 1.25 million tons of items were recycled last year. Dare County led the way, with more than 993 pounds of recycling per resident.

Catawba County, in the Hickory area, came in second at 686 pounds per person. Pitt County was third with 560 pounds and Wake County trails with 123 pounds The state's lowest rate was in Northampton County with just under 8 pounds per person.


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  • carparts May 22, 2009

    This is why we stopped using Waste Industries.They wanted to charge extra for recycling.I thought they got paid for what was recycled.

  • affirmativediversity May 22, 2009


    How much pollution does that second truck emit?

  • emaleth May 22, 2009

    Our trash co. Republic waste has a recycling service we could pay extra for, but we just take ours to the nearby county collection site for recycling and do it all ourselves. It's free. However I HAVE seen this company use a separate recycling truck in our neighborhood.

  • affirmativediversity May 22, 2009


    Do you really believe Big Unions and Big Government is the answer? Do you have your head in a hole somewhere? Have you ever considered truthfully and unbiasedly researching the devastating consequences of Big Unions and Big Government on the British and European economies?

    Maybe you should look at what is happening with GM and Chysler, today. Specifically GM, who was and has been the BIGGEST benefactor of GOVERNMENT intervention in order to prop up unions (Roosevelt during the depression) but yet they are failing. Chrysler, who has been bailed out before by government in order to protect their union contracts but are now in bankruptcy.
    FORD, the one US automaker who has ALWAYS stood its ground against BIG government...both during the depression and now ...well, they might not be doing great BUT THEY'LL HAVE MY BUSINESS NEXT TIME I PURCHASE A VEHICLE!

    Really, look beyond your liberal box...you may just find all kinds of new possibilities.

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ May 21, 2009

    dugmeister, I read the report you highlighted from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) titled "Eight Great Myths of Recycling" (2003), and there is a fundamental flaw in their analysis: there is no such thing as a free market, also called Laissez-faire capitalism. This was attempted in the 1800s in the US, and it took unions and government regulations to improve both the working conditions and consumer protection. The large companies were exploiting the market, with greed running wildly unchecked by the free market. This is very similar to our current economic recession caused by the unregulated financial sectors. So their analysis of the 8 myths is also flawed because of this flawed basis.

    If you do a search on the Internet, you will see a good number of rebuttals to this paper.

    PERC Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_and_Environment_Research_Center

    nuff said. :-)

  • didisaythat May 21, 2009


    How do you get that conservatives do not want to recycle. I am going to put my liberal hat on and say, " you can't say all of us are like that. I am conservative and recycle". And actually the conservative part is more about fisical conservative views. That first word is about money...you know how when Bush was hammered by the liberals for his big deficit and he was so evil and then Obama comes along and just blows Bush's deficit out of the water and the liberals were so mad...wait, no they don't have a problem with anything that Obama does. Do you find it odd how much was said about the bad things Bush did and then Obama is not changing much..Interesting.

  • dugmeister May 21, 2009


    nuff said.

  • dugmeister May 21, 2009

    Justin T - you are right on the mark.
    It all started in the 70's with the "our landfills are filling up" propaganda that all the wanna-be-do-gooders-of-the-world bought.

  • disco2drivin May 21, 2009

    "First of all, why would ANYONE pay extra for a Recycling Program? Its like pulling teeth for me to recycle, and its included in the price I pay for Garbage Collection. I would NEVER pay ten cents extra for a Recycling Program. You really have to want to throw money away to pay for that. The same people probably pay a lot more for Eco-Green junk. Glad its your money and not mine." - Deathrow

    You do realize that not everything is about money. Some people actually care about the impact that they have on this big spinning rock on which we sit. I'm always intrigued by how opposed to conservation that Conservatives are...I mean the name has the word right there in it...

  • Foxtrot Delta Tango May 21, 2009

    DeathRow and mgratk are being a trolls as per usual.