Recycling a Problem

(WSVN) - We take garbage and recycling pickup for granted. The people who do it are reliable and good, but of course, they aren’t perfect, and when one street’s recycling didn’t get picked up a few times, one man wanted to see what he could do, so he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Many people have traveled the world, but few like Mark Benjamin.

Mark Benjamin: “I wanted to see if I could get completely around the world and never fly in an airplane. I thought it would take six months or a year, and it took five years and a month,”

Mark Benjamin (showing his collection): “That’s a Yagua blow gun. I have got some darts here. I’ve got some blow gun poison.”

Incredible souvenirs over the past 30 years from traveling to places many people would never consider.

Mark Benjamin
Mark Benjamin

Mark Benjamin: “I hitchhiked across the Sahara Desert, crossed the Amazon jungle in river boats — twice. Worked for Mother Theresa in Calcutta, crossed the Himalayas on the Old Silk Road that Marco Polo passed on.”

Mark enjoys taking those fascinating trips, but a problem on his street in Miami is no fun.

Mark Benjamin: “About a year ago, the recycling, they stopped picking up.”

Mark called 311.

Mark Benjamin: “Somebody came out the next day and took the recycling, but the regular recycling didn’t resume.”

Mark knows he is not missing the scheduled pickups because he leaves his container here all the time, so he called 311 again.

Mark Benjamin: “One or two pickups, and then it stopped again.”

After the recycling wasn’t picked up four different times, Mark called Miami Solid Waste, and a supervisor came to his home.

Mark Benjamin: “When he left, he said, ‘Don’t worry, I will take care of this.’ One pickup or two, and then it stopped again.”

Mark says his recycling pickup is just not consistent, but his treatment by the City of Miami is.

Mark Benjamin: “Everybody I talked to was magnificent. Everybody seemed like they were trying to help me.”

But when they couldn’t figure out the problem, Mark called us, and we watched.

On Jan. 3, the recycling was picked up just as scheduled, but just as in the past, it was not picked up as it should have been two weeks later, on the 17th. We waited a few days to see if someone came the following week. They didn’t.

The recycling bins on Mark’s street and the next street filled up and nearly overflowed.

Finally, on Jan. 26, 23 days after the last pickup, we called the City of Miami. They quickly came out to pick up the recycling.

Mark Benjamin: “You would think it would be extremely simple to take care of. This should be a very minor thing. I have been working on it for a year.”

What’s going on? Mark can’t be sure.

Mark Benjamin: “I can only guess that the person who comes down this road is skipping the pickup.”

Well, Howard, legally, what can you do?

Howard Finkelstein: “Legally, you have the right to have your garbage or recycling picked up on the day that the government agency chooses, because just like a private business, you pay for that service, and they have to deliver. But since it’s a government agency, if they miss days, since they have a monopoly and you cannot switch to a different pickup service, your only solution is to complain.”

I spoke to the people at Miami Solid Waste Department, and they could not have been any nicer. They told me they strive to have quality service, that they make 175,000 garbage and recycling pickups a week, that complaints are isolated … but, they added that humans make errors and mistakes happen.

They were going to then review their records to try to determine why the problems have occurred on Mark’s street.

Mark Benjamin (pointing to his souvenirs): “Palestinian, Tibetan, that’s a Balinese mask. The rug is Bosnian.”

Mark now hopes his recycling will be picked up on his street on schedule, as he plans his next unusual vacation.

Mark Benjamin: “I have so much fun. I can’t imagine anything better.”

Interesting fellow. And in South Florida, where many people complain about government agencies, give Miami Solid Waste credit for quickly moving to correct their problem. That’s nice to see.

Recycling a solution that’s still not solving your problem? Wanna see it picked up and hauled away? Don’t travel far, just drop it off with us — so we can give you a vacation from the headache.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.