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Waste Management dealing with recycling mess in Broward County

Officials say about 34% of collected recyclables is actually garbage

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Waste Management’s facility just off of US 27 and Pembroke Road is filled to the brim with recyclables.

The problem is more than a third of it is actually trash.

“We know our residents want to recycle right, but unfortunately, about 34% of the material they're putting curbside is non-recyclable garbage," said Dawn McCormick with Waste Management.

McCormick is the Director of Communications for Waste Management and she tells us the main issue is that people don't really understand what is and isn’t recyclable, or just don't care.

The problem got so bad Waste Management told several Broward County cities they were going to stop accepting mixed paper because contamination rates were so high, they couldn’t sell any of the bales they made.

Recyclables are sorted at a processing center in Pembroke Pines.
Recyclables are sorted at a processing center in Pembroke Pines. (WPLG)

"The best quality paper is finding a market, but when Broward is sending us 34% garbage in the recyclables, we can’t make a product that we can market in a very, very tight market,” said McCormick

Waste Management has since walked that back and are allowing everyone to continue recycling paper, but they are asking that people stop trying to recycle things like dirty pizza boxes and half full bottles that will get things dirty, or plastic bags into that gum up the machinery.

“Recycle right means clean and dry, cardboard, paper, bottles and cans only and when in doubt, throw it out," McCormick said.

Additional stats:

Mixed paper bales have to be 95% mixed paper and 5% or less contamination (garbage accidentally mixed in) to be sold.

Cardboard can only have 3-4% contamination.

Steel, tin and aluminum cans can have less than 2% contamination.


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