In a surprising reversal today, the City of Portland, Maine admitted that its sanitation workers who had come under fire after being caught throwing recyclables into a trash truck had been following orders.
The trouble started last month when a video emerged showing city sanitation workers tossing recyclables outside of residents’ homes into the back of a garbage truck, according to the Portland Press.
The footage outraged residents who have been taking the time to separate their garbage from recyclables, like plastic containers and aluminum cans.
Portland city officials initially denied having a policy in place that would require sanitation workers to throw away recyclables.
However, today the city said an internal investigation revealed that its former solid waste manager had instructed workers to throw away recyclables on narrow and dead-end streets. Portland contains several dead-end streets where trucks cannot turn around and instead have to back up down the street.
A city representative explained that if a trash truck showed up first on either a narrow or dead-end street, then workers would throw away the recyclables. However, if the recycle truck arrived first, then recyclables would be picked up and the trash placed temporarily on the back of the truck until it backed up the street to meet up with a refuse truck where workers would then remove the trash.
City officials aren’t sure how many streets were affected by the former manager’s policy.