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Caller Puts Worker in Heap of Trouble

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Canoga Park resident Jeff Freedman’s dedication to recycling got a hooky-playing city worker in big trouble Friday.

The mini-flap arose when Freedman saw his garbage and recycling containers--normally picked up separately--being dumped into a single trash truck.

When Freedman asked what was going on, the driver replied that his boss had told him to take everything, because “the driver for the recycling truck was ill or had an emergency.”

“I was fuming,” Freedman said. “I go through painstaking efforts each week to get as much as I can into these (recycling) bins, because I feel that it’s so important.”

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Freedman complained to Los Angeles sanitation officials, who stopped the driver and later disputed his story.

He “was covering for a friend, and it was not the truth that a supervisor had told him to do this,” said Gyl Elliott, spokeswoman for the recycling and waste reduction division of the city Bureau of Sanitation.

Elliott said the wayward worker, who normally drives the recycling truck through Freedman’s neighborhood, had decided to go home early, and had asked the trash truck driver to collect for him. Both drivers will be disciplined, she said.

This is “very embarrassing to us,” Elliott said. “It’s never happened before. There is no one in management who either knew or subscribes to . . . dumping recyclables with trash. We’ve never done it. We never will.”

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Elliott said the trash driver was stopped after taking recyclables from 12 homes, and that the recycling driver was ordered to pick up the rest of the area.

Freedman’s home near the intersection of Hart Street and Glade Avenue is one of about 410,000 citywide to have curbside recycling.

The program, being phased in throughout Los Angeles, is the centerpiece of city efforts to comply with a state law requiring landfill dumping to be cut 25% by 1995 and 50% by the year 2000.

The service was supposed to have reached all of the city’s 720,000 households by now, but mechanical breakdowns and other problems have delayed it.

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The city is also implementing a new trash collection program featuring automated trucks and special refuse containers. It has reached about 343,000 households, Elliott said.


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