Boston's green credentials are taking a hit after a FOX Undercover investigation found city workers dumping bin after bin of recyclables into a trash truck on Boston Common.
"Trying to figure out why you're throwing recyclables in the trash?" FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked one trash truck crew member.
As the sound of glass bottles falling into the metal truck could be heard, the worker replied, "Because that's where they belong because it's all trash."
But it's not all trash, and the city installed cutting edge waste technology a year ago to make sure recyclables are separated. Separate solar-powered trash and recycling bins were installed along Tremont Street last summer.
The system features side-by-side bins, one for recyclables and the other for garbage. But FOX Undercover's camera captured city workers dumping both bins into the same city compactor truck.
Boston resident Kim McMahon has also seen it. She walks through the Common every morning and says workers have been doing it since at least last fall.
"I was horrified. I thought it was absolutely atrocious, and I went up and talked to the men who were doing it and I asked them why they were doing it, do they do that all the time? And he said, ‘Yeah, we've done it the whole time because the mayor's not budgeted for recycling to be picked up.'"
We tried to talk to the trash truck crew's boss at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, but he passed the buck.
"I know nothing about this. I know nothing about it right now. I'm late to a meeting right now. I gotta go to a meeting right now," he said.
So we went right to the top, Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
"Is recycling a joke in Boston?" Beaudet asked.
"No, it isn't a joke," Menino replied.
"Did you not budget for recycling?" Beaudet asked.
"That's typical of some employee who doesn't want to do his job. Blame the mayor. I've got big shoulders. But I told them this morning, they better get it straightened out," Menino said. "I wasn't aware of that situation. It was brought to my attention this morning. I spoke with them. I want it fixed. I expect the public to do it. We as public servants should do the same thing."
The blame game continues as the Parks and Recreation Department says workers were trained to keep the recycling separate when the solar bins were installed a year ago. A spokesperson says the department is now doing its own investigation, hopefully before Boston follows through with the city's plan to buy more solar-powered trash and recycling bins.
The city is already struggling with its recycling program. A news report revealed this week that Boston lags behind other major cities in recycling.