I-TEAM: Some Jacksonville recycling drop-off bins overflowing with waste

Complaints surface over bins reaching capacity, debris piling up following Christmas holiday weekend

The News4JAX I-TEAM is fielding complaints about recycling and trash piling up at drop-off sites, some of which are at city parks.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4JAX I-TEAM is fielding complaints about recycling and trash piling up at drop-off sites, some of which are at city parks.

It’s been an issue from time to time since Mayor Lenny Curry and staff temporarily suspended curbside recycling pickup and put collection bins throughout the city.

Now, especially after Christmas, residents said receptacles at many sites are overflowing. One of the locations is Castaway Island Preserve on San Pablo Road.

Castaway Island Preserve recycling site on Dec. 28, 2021.

“It’s gorgeous. It’s one of the best hidden secrets in Jacksonville, nature-wise,” said Liz Mattson.

She and her husband are tired of seeing trash in the parking lot.

“People come and dump everything,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s recycling or trash.”

It’s one of 14 recycling drop-off spots that the city created since Jacksonville suspended curbside pickup in October because of what the city said was COVID-related staffing issues.

Hendrik Dekker, who took his 9-year-old grandson for a walk at Castaway Island Preserve on Tuesday, said he was disappointed to the see the pileup.

“I thought I was going to take him to a place of beauty and serenity, because I love this. And instead I brought him to a garbage dump,” Dekker said.

The I-TEAM is investigating the buildups after getting email after email from people upset their parks are no longer pristine.

News4JAX visited more than half the city sites over the past two days. Some were overflowing, others had little to no problems.

Palmetto Park recycling site on Dec. 27, 2021.

Waste Management is a contractor the city uses for recycling pickup. Their trucks are hitting every location twice a day but still can be overwhelmed. Drivers said there are some things slowing down the process.

People are not breaking down their boxes. That’s causing a bigger pileup and more work to remove.

Residents are also dumping things that are not recyclable. Plastic bags are a prime example. Those can’t go to the recycling center. Neither can car parts, tires and other things that they deal with every single day. News4JAX noticed a number of items that should be discarded as garbage.

The trash that’s left at the recycling drop-offs must be sorted, removed and then left at the site for a city crew to pick up.

Jacksonville leaders have not said how much longer this plan will continue, but not everyone’s critical of it.

“Where else are they going to put it?” asked Rod McFate. “It’s a city park, city land. It’s a good short-term solution.”

News4JAX reached out to the city Monday and Tuesday for comment. Our requests have not been returned by publication of this article.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.