Hazardous Materials Injuring Recycling Center Employees

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MCALLEN – McAllen officials said people could be putting lives in danger with what they choose to throw away.

Crews at the McAllen Recycling Center said hazardous materials are making their way to the sorting line.

McAllen Recycling Center renewable resources manager Robert Trevino said 28 people sort through trash every Tuesday through Friday.

He said these items sometimes injure people on the job.

“We see needles, car batteries, some of the waste diapers that have the feces still inside,” he said.

Employee Jose Chio learned items in blue bins can also be dangerous.

“There’s always a risk. It could be a needle or glass. For me, I felt it was glass. We were pulling material out and when I grabbed my gloves I felt a prick and I let go,” he said.

Chio said crews sort through hazardous material with their hands. 

“For me the most dangerous materials are batteries – all kinds of batteries – they contain Zinc. It can contaminate your blood. That’s dangerous,” he said.

He said it’s the reason he’s more cautious on the line.

“I just grab the things that look normal. You have to be careful about how you pull things out. Sometimes you grab glass and needles and all kind of things. You have to be cautious. If I don’t see it right I don’t touch it,” he said.

McAllen authorities said they’re requesting residents to recycle appropriately and keep hazardous materials off the sorting line.

Trevino said inspectors are also checking on blue bins. If they find anything other than recyclables, he said the bin is passed over for service.

“After the second time, your blue bin will be removed and you’ll be issued a second black bin at a $10.50 monthly charge,” he said.

Trevino said they want to make sure people only put copper, paper, plastic, aluminum and tin in the bins. He said that will make a safer work environment for workers at the recycling center.

The city said homeowners can opt out of the second black bin to avoid the additional charge. The blue bin can also be returned after a six month probationary period.


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