BAKER — Brittney Sanchez is worried that people who do not bring their recycled items to the transfer station in Baker run the risk of such items being treated as household trash and taken to a landfill.
Sanchez, who has lived in Holt for about four years, said she began learning more about recycling about two months ago.
“I posted a Facebook video on what can or cannot be recycled,” she said.
Sanchez said while Adams Sanitation collects her household trash, it doesn’t pick up recycled items, so she brings them to the transfer station.
“What I take does get recycled,” she said. “The stuff that gets put in the big metal shipping containers at the Baker transfer station (gets recycled). It’s the stuff on the trucks that does not get recycled.”
Sanchez was referring to recycled items that Waste Pro brings to the Okaloosa County-managed facility in Baker. She said the company for several months has been collecting recyclables with a garbage truck.
“I’ve seen garbage trucks in parts of Baker and Crestview pick up recycled stuff, but it gets contaminated,” Sanchez said.
She also said two transfer station employees have told her that recycled items collected by Waste Pro end up in a landfill.
Ron Pecora, senior vice president of Longwood-based Waste Pro, said the company uses the same trucks, but on different days, for garbage and recycling pickups.
“Yes, (recycled items) are dumped in the same truck (that collects garbage), but they’re not mixed in with anything," Pecora said. “These trucks are emptied every day, so there is no garbage in them when they're on a recycling route."
He said uncontaminated recyclable items ultimately end up at the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority recycling facility in Pensacola, while contaminated items go to a landfill.
"Contamination is an enormous issue, and one pizza box (containing food residue) will result in the recycling not being accepted," Pecora said.
County spokesman Christopher Saul said the county does not have a contract with or any responsibility for Waste Pro.
“If they say they’re bringing in trash (to the transfer station), then we’re taking it in as trash,” Saul said.
In the county’s contract with Waste Management that covers much of the unincorporated area, the mixing of recyclables with trash is prohibited, he said.
“As far as we’re concerned, our only provider is Waste Management, and the contract says to recycle stuff that’s recyclable,” he said.
Saul added that all of the county's trash is taken to the Springhill Landfill in Jackson County.