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Boston Common recycling back on track

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The city of Boston's earth-unfriendly days of dumping recyclables from Boston Common into the trash are history, a top parks official tells FOX Undercover.

The turnabout comes after FOX Undercover's camera rolled this past June on city workers dumping bin after bin of glass, paper and other recyclables into a grimy trash truck, prompting angry words from Boston's self-proclaimed green mayor, Thomas M. Menino.

"I want it fixed!," Menino told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet this past summer.

And now recyclables really are being recycled, according to Bernie Lynch, director of maintenance for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.

"Is recycling a joke in Boston?" Beaudet asked him.

"No it's not. It's very important to the city. It's a challenge for us as an operation, but it's not a joke," Lynch replied.

The trash turnabout comes after two seemingly bewildered city workers told Beaudet they were just doing their job by dumping two bins – one for trash, the other for recyclables – into the same truck.

"That's where they belong because it's all trash," one worker said.

"This is trash? I thought we're a green community," Beaudet replied.

"We don't have a recycle truck down here," the worker replied.

As the truck's compactor smashed the commingled waste together, another worker said, "I'm just doing my job."

And when FOX Undercover asked their boss about the job they were doing, their supervisor replied, "I know nothing about it right now. I'm late to a meeting right now. I gotta go to a meeting right now."

That meeting was with Lynch, who says the recyclables on Boston Common have been getting trashed since last winter, but no more. The recycling containers are emptied at least twice a week, then all the recyclables are hauled away on Fridays. And the city plans on installing more of the high-tech recycling bins on the Common.

"Were you disappointed to see that the recycling was being thrown in the trash?" Beaudet asked.

"Yes I was. I mean it was a breakdown on our part. And it starts with me as the superintendent. And we corrected it and we thank the citizens and FOX 25 for that," he said.

"One of the workers said talk to my boss. He made it seem like he was following orders?" Beaudet said.

"Yeah, it came across that way. It didn't come from me or his supervisor. And we checked into that and wrote up the crew to make sure they understood what the program was and laid out the parameters. And we don't expect to have a problem again," he said.

"The supervisor just drove away from us," Beaudet said.

"I think he was kind of approached pretty abruptly by you. It wasn't like it was direct communication with the department. I understand what your job is," Lynch replied.

"We were asking a pretty simple question," Beaudet said.

"Yeah, and I think you got his best answer he could. He did have to come to a meeting with me," Lynch said.

"How do you guarantee that the recycling is actually getting recycled now?" Beaudet said.

"Better supervision and better reporting so we'll put that in place because we spoke to the foreman, the general foreman, the superintendent, corrected their mistakes and ultimately my mistake of making sure it wasn't occurring," Lynch said.

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