PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the past several months, Beaverton residents Jeff Myers and Andi Prewitt have been watching the company that is paid to handle their recycling throw it in the trash.
The company responsible for recycling removal is Valet Waste, “The nation’s leading provider of doorstep trash and recycling collection service.”
The company has contracts with apartment complexes from coast to coast, including the Deveraux Glen Apartments, where Myers and Prewitt live. Recyclable items are to be placed in blue bags so they are easily differentiated from regular trash.
But since April, Myers and Prewitt say they’ve recorded videos of the employees taking the blue bags and putting them in the trash compactors.
“They chucked the blue bag,” Prewitt says about one of many cell phone videos. “Of course they did. It’s just like they did every night.”
Residents at apartments that use Valet Waste pay extra for this service, and don’t have the option to decline it. They are forced to pay for something KOIN 6 News has learned some aren’t getting.
Myers and Prewitt are being charged $18 per month — so for a 500-unit apartment complex like Deveraux Glen, that’s a revenue of about $9,000 a month.
Deveraux Glen is owned by Greystar Apartments, a multi-billion dollar company that uses Valet Waste at multiple locations. Greystar’s Terrace Apartments in Hillsboro also use Valet Waste.
“It makes me wonder how much this is happening nationwide, how much we think is being recycled is not and winds up in landfills along with all the actual trash.” — Jeff Myers
Greystar Management Services issued a statement about the issue:
“We have hired Valet Waste to perform door-to-door trash and recycling collection at many of our communities. We contacted them about this situation and they are reviewing the matter. Sustainability is important to us and our residents and we want to ensure that these programs are effective, benefiting the community and the environment. We will continue to review the matter with our vendors and take appropriate action as warranted.”
“It makes me wonder how much this is happening nationwide, how much we think is being recycled is not and winds up in landfills along with all the actual trash,” Myers said.
KOIN tested what Prewitt and Myers’ experienced by putting a Bluetooth tracking device in a blue bag of recycling at the Terrace Apartments.
With the tracker inside, the Valet Waste workers took the bag and put it into the garbage dumpster, not the recycling bin. At 2 other Greystar properties in Washington County, KOIN 6 News saw the blue bags in the trash compactor or dumpster.
Green Leaf Partners, based in California, also contracts with Valet Waste. KOIN 6 News found the same thing at their River Pointe Apartments in Vancouver — blue bags in a garbage dumpster and the compactor.
Green Leaf did not respond to KOIN’s request for comment.
The City of Vancouver is well aware customers are not happy with Valet Waste.
Loretta Callahan with the Public Works Department said residents of the Greenleaf River Pointe Apartments have complained to them about Valet Waste employees throwing away their recycling.
“We are aware residents are concerned. We have urged them to recycle themselves,” said Callahan. “We’ve attempted to work with Valet Waste,” she added, but city employees have been telling residents to take their recycling to recycling receptacles instead of putting out recycling out in blue bags for Valet Waste employees to pick up.
The city is asking people to not put recycling in plastic bags at all, because the bags cause recycling sorting machinery to malfunction.
Based on this KOIN 6 News investigation, the Oregon DEQ has launched an official investigation into Valet Waste and Greystar Apartments.
Valet Waste sent a statement, saying they, “…appreciate your bringing to our attention an isolated incident of certain properties in our Northwest region that may have experienced inconsistencies in terms of recycling service levels.”
They said they are investigating the situation.
Some Yelp and Google reviewers also have other complaints about Valet Waste. There are harsh comments from across the country.