- Waste Management fired five managers from its Lewisville, TX-based operations this week after discovering 8,337 tons of recyclables from a total of 14 cities and subdivisions was landfilled.
- A company’s audit of the trucks' GPS records confirmed drivers were "periodically" dumping waste at landfills rather than hauling it to the company’s two local recycling centers between May 2014 and January 2016. While Lewisville spokesman James Kunke said officials await Waste Management’s more in-depth audit, company spokeswoman Greta Calvery told The Dallas Morning News new procedures and audit checkpoints have been established to prevent similar occurrences moving forward. Additionally, drivers and other employees are being retrained.
- News of the misrouted waste spread quickly when officials from Flower Mound, one of the impacted cities, notified the media, followed promptly by a press release from the town of Double Oak. Flower Mound is requesting ongoing audits and an external investigation of the company, while Double Oak Mayor Mike Donnelly plans to meet with Waste Management officials Friday.
News of the landfilled recyclables — comprising 19% of the region’s collections — has caused a shakeup at Waste Management, who says this has never happened before. It has also caused a commotion throughout Northern Texas where municipalities worry about what this will mean to their residents. Officials there have worked to increase recycling participation, and with success — the region’s recycling rate climbed to about 60% to 65% from its previous rate of 50% to 55%.
The apparent hauler work ethic issues are not contained to Northern Texas. Earlier this week, an undercover investigation found Tampa Solid Waste Department garbage trucks remaining idle or driving around places other than their routes. There have also been similar reports of workers slacking or otherwise being negligent.
“We would certainly hate for a very unfortunate incident like this to cause people to stop participating in a program that has tremendous long-range benefits," said Kunke to the Dallas Morning News. "It would be a shame if people let something like this give them the excuse they needed to not do this [recycle] anymore."
Dallas officials issued a statement clarifying that they were not among the areas whose recyclables got dumped and emphasizing their collections are tracked and verified by weight tickets generated upon delivery.
Double Oak Mayor Mike Donnelly said to the Dallas Morning News, "I have already expressed my disappointment on behalf of our town residents and will do so again today when I meet with Waste Management. I expect their internal controls and documentation will be stronger when it comes to supervision of customer routes in the field to reduce misses and we can trust proper accountability ... going forward."