It's the law in D.C. - recycle or face a fine from the Department of Public Works. But is enforcement of the law going too far?
Dupont Circle resident Patricia White says she has been fined eight times for throwing homemade cat litter in her trash. The fines total $2,000. White says she shreds old newspaper and junk mail to use as cat litter. She believes she is helping the environment by reusing the paper and avoiding cat litter you will find in stores.
After being fined several times, White says she called the Department of Public Works inspector who issued the tickets. According to White, the inspector admitted to digging through trash looking for violations. White even appealed the violations in D.C. court. Judge Audrey Jenkins agreed with the inspector after White explained the situation. FOX 5 tried to reach Judge Jenkins, but her office has declined to comment.
D.C. Council Member Jack Evans says DPW is going too far with its recycling enforcement. He demanded a meeting with DPW Director Bill Howland to discuss White's case.
White says she will continue to fight the citations and continue to dispose of her cat's litter in the trash and not in the recycling bin.
The DC Department of Public Works made the following statement to clarify the purpose of its commercial recycling enforcement procedures:
“The overall goal of recycling is to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills; therefore, DPW’s commercial recycling education and enforcement work is citywide. We do not enforce residential recycling, which is collected from single family homes and apartment buildings with no more than three living units.
“DPW recycling investigators are looking for evidence of co-mingling of trash with recyclables. We are finding contamination of the recyclables that is clearly coming from someone who lives or works in the building or in the trained perspective of our investigators, the problem is ‘systemic’ where poor receptacle placement, labeling and/or education have contributed to obvious contamination.
“Commercial property owners, including owners of residential buildings with four or more living units, are required to provide trash and recycling collection services through a contract with a licensed hauler.
“We emphasize education and when that does not work, as shown by follow-up inspections, we will enforce the regulations.
“An appeal process is available to property owners who believe a ticket has been issued unfairly.”
In an e-mail to FOX 5 regarding White's situation, a spokesperson for the DC Department of Public Works said, "The ticket Ms. White is questioning was upheld November 21, 2011 by an Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings, based on evidence of items other than the shredded newspaper that showed comingled trash and recyclables."
by MATT ACKLAND taken from http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/dc/dc-resident-fined-thousands-for-not-recycling-cat-litter-121311#ixzz1gSaP6zTy