Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "recycling" ...

  • Better Government Association: Recycling in Chicago

    Chicago, long notorious for mismanaging its recycling programs, allows a private city recycling hauler to divert tons of residential plastics and paper into landfills the company owns. The situation creates an unfair system that treats residents differently depending solely on where they live, costing taxpayers twice to handle the same materials and making Chicago the worst city in the nation in terms of its recycling rate.
  • Hazardous Waste Regulation Challenges in California

    Despite a number of organizations overseeing the metal shredding industry, regulators have struggled to be effective in their efforts, possibly jeopardizing environmental and societal health. A deep dive into the Sims Recycling Plant in Silicon Valley uncovered decades of violations and millions of dollars of fines. And the failure to effectively police these plants are hurting local residents: in late 2013, the San Francisco Peninsula was engulfed in noxious black smoke when fires broke out at the facility.
  • Tijuana Tire Valley

    In an investigation that took us across the border, we explored the failure of the California state government to properly allocate funds collected from a consumer fee to prevent severe pollution of a bi-national region. We discovered California recycling fees were being used to ship tires to the border where they are sold and resold in Mexico; until the tires eventually wash back into environmentally sensitive lands in the United States. NBC7 Investigates uncovered a ballooning $60 million state "tire recycling management fund" that has since been targeted for better use by the Speaker of the Assembly. We followed tires from the California tire store to the border to deeper into Mexico to Tijuana, where tires are in such surplus they have become a fixture of architecture.
  • Failures in the Golden State

    The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversees or has some part in regulating everything from nail polish ingredients to oil refineries, radioactive waste to metal recycling in California. At the heart of our series is the story of a department that’s divided, dysfunctional, and ineffective in fulfilling its mission to protect public health and the environment of the Golden State. We sifted through hundreds of pages of reports, memos, reviews, manifests and legal claims. We also analyzed thousands of records in the department’s hazardous waste tracking system to find out that more than 40% of the hazardous waste manifests in the DTSC’s database contain inaccurate information or are missing key details. Our reporting has held leaders accountable at the DTSC and compelled state lawmakers to call for an investigation of the department, including a legislative hearing this month (January 2014). Through a series of public records requests, we found out some of the department’s top leaders were investing in companies the DTSC oversees. Our reporting into the potential financial conflicts of interest prompted an investigation into deputy director Odette Madriago by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Ms. Madriago resigned from her position six weeks after our report aired. The FPPC investigation remains ongoing.
  • Pacific Steel Recycling Pollution

    KGTV 10News revealed toxic waste piles behind the gates of a San Diego County recycling yard- Pacific Steel Inc.
  • The Wasteland

    CBS News found that when well-meaning American consumers give their electronics to so-called recyclers, the waste is often smuggled to China and other parts of the Third World, where it is broken down or melted for the precious metals inside. They investigated a major electronic waste recycler in the Denver area, Executive Recycling, and tracked a container that had been filled with cathode ray tubes at the company's loading docks. They followed this container from Denver, to the port of Tacoma, to Hong Kong, which is the main entryway to the part of southern China where electronic waste is broken down in the worst conditions. There, seven out of ten kids have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. Pregnancies are six times more likely to end in miscarriage. The reporters also went to China and found that wasteland, where workers were cooking circuit boards over open flames and separating the gold from other metals in acid baths on the edge of a river. While filming, the crew was attacked by a gang that protects this gray market enterprise. Back in Denver, CBS News confronted the CEO of Executive Recycling. He denied that his company had sent the CRTs overseas, but the evidence was all but irrefutable.
  • Mentally Unfit, Forced to Fight

    The series investigated mental health screening and treatment for service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Based on Defense Department records data and interviews with more than 100 mental health experts, service members, and the relatives and friends of troops who committed suicide in the war zone, we reported that the military was increasingly sending, keeping and recycling mentally troubles troops into combat, in violation of the military's own regulations, and with tragic consequences."
  • Public Pays for Toxic Trails

    Reporters Sarah Ruby and James Burger look into the reason why California's Kern County has so many toxic waste dumps. They found that many companies came to the county as recycling companies in recent decades, promising to turn hazardous waste into road base or other useful things. Instead, they made toxic dump piles. The Kern County Health Department had turned a blind eye to these activities, trying to "work" with the companies, but this strategy failed. BY the time the state had to step in to try to solve the problem, the culpable companies were gone, and taxpayers had to foot the cleanup bill.
  • Wretched Excess

    The story investigated the growing industry of municipal sewage sludge recycling, and particularly the practice of spreading sludge on farmland. The story followed a rancher who claims that sewage sludge made him and his family sick, and it reviews the case of a scientist who faced resistance at the EPA to his study of sludge health effects. It showed how science unfavorable to the sludge recyclers was suppressed by the EPA at the behest of the companies.
  • As Good As New?

    The recycling and re-use of medical devices labeled for one use only is called reprocessing, and is a controversial practice in the medical industry. Thousands of different devices are re-used by hospitals around the country, ranging from simple blood-pressure cuffs to highly-invasive catheters and biopsy tools. The practice saves hospitals millions of dollars, but consumers generally have no idea.