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Mayor criticized over garbage bin dump in D.C.

Tuesday - 5/20/2014, 6:34pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- What a dump.

Thousands of plastic trash bins the District had promised to recycle have, instead, gone to a landfill -- at least for now.

Adding to the outrage, some see election-year politics as a reason for the rushed -- and misconceived -- effort to replace the city's trash and recycling receptacles.

"The mayor decided he was going to do it all at once before the [Democratic primary] election," says Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 3.

A council committee had budgeted for new cans, but its plan involved a five-year process for the roll out.

"The throwing away of these trash cans just illustrates how you shouldn't go out there and just do something right away, without thinking, spending lots and lots of money to make up for the mistakes made along the way," she says.

The Washington Post first reported that plastic trash bins have been crushed and sent to Fort Totten Transfer Station.

Mayor Vince Gray first dipped into reserve funds to expedite the delivery of new cans before the April 1 Democratic primary, the paper reported.

"The money was taken from the rainy day fund, which is impermissible, really," Cheh says. "It's not meant for that."

In an email response on Tuesday, the Department of Public Works said 5,300 plastic bins will not be recycled.

"The benefit of improving safety exceeded the cost of not recycling 7 percent of what we removed," wrote Linda Grant, a DPW spokesperson.

However, those cans will not remain in the landfill. They'll be sent to the waste- to-energy facility in Fairfax County, according to DPW.

The Department says it has sent 31 tractor-trailer loads -- or 265 tons -- of containers to be recycled by the manufacturer.

DPW continues to remove old trash cans this week, and it plans to do so for the foreseeable future.

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