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VERIFY: Is recycling ending up in St. Louis landfills?

5 On Your Side viewer Sharon asked, “I saw online that St. Louis city is not picking up trash and recycling separately, is this true?”

ST. LOUIS — The City of St. Louis Refuse Division picks up 327 tons of recycling a week on average. That's 2.6 million pounds a month. 

But is it just ending up in a landfill? 5 On Your Side's VERIFY team tracked down the answers.

QUESTION:

5 On Your Side viewer Sharon asked, “I saw online that St. Louis city is not picking up trash and recycling separately, is this true?”

SOURCES:

  • Nick Dunne, spokesperson for the City of St. Louis
  • A statement from Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office

ANSWER:

True. The City of St. Louis is not picking up trash and recycling separately.

BACKGROUND:

Our sources said there is a longstanding labor shortage in the city’s refuse division. That means they don’t have enough employees to drive both the trash and recycling trucks.

The city is trying to incentivize people to apply by offering a $3,000 bonus for refuse employees who complete a discretionary period of 4-6 months.

RELATED: St. Louis offering $3,000 hiring incentive for new refuse workers

RELATED: City of St. Louis asking residents to use recycling drop-off locations amid worker shortage

The city has recently seen an uptick in applicants, but there still are not enough employees.

During the labor shortage, trash and recycling are being combined.

It started happening in May 2021 but the city hopes to be fully staffed by 2022.

“We are hoping that, if we keep up this trajectory of new applicants and new hires, that by the holiday season will be able to start collecting refuse and recycling separately again,” said Dunne.

However, there is a way city residents can still recycle.

The city has set up 29 locations where you can drop off your recycling listed here.

What can the 5 On Your Side VERIFY team factcheck for you? Let us know: email us at verify@ksdk.com or fill out the form below.