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Garbage piles up in 'green' Mexico City

Mexico City closed its last major dump in December in hopes of making the city 'greener,' but trash truck circulation and neighboring states refusing the capital's waste has led to one stinky situation.

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One can’t miss the garbage truck in Mexico City, whose arrival is announced by the clanging of a bucket-sized bell and a cloud of pungent exhaust.

With the truck in view, residents scurry out to hand over bulging bags of trash, promptly ripped open by the garbage men who toss the compost as they search for recyclable treasures: plastic soda bottles, glass, cardboard. But since the city closed the last landfill inside its limits this December, the trash collection ritual has been upended in many neighborhoods, with trash piling up.

Giant mounds of garbage have been left at the curb along the city’s normally pristine tourist corridor in the historic center. More than 1,000 clandestine dumps have been recorded in barrios, or neighborhoods, around the city. The trash debacle is making daily headlines here and tarnishing the capital’s reputation for its otherwise progressive environmental politics.

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Mayor Marcelo Ebrard ceremoniously closed the Bordo Poniente, the city’s last major dump and the source of 20 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, on Dec. 19. He announced the city would turn to composting and recycling the majority of its waste, while the rest would presumably be transferred to landfill facilities in nearby Mexico state. He said the logistics adjustment was expected to take about a week.

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