Too much trash in Tulsa's recycling bins costs taxpayers

By contract, Tulsa's allowed a 15% contamination rate; it's at about 30%

Residents of Tulsa continue to put trash into recycling bins, and that's costs taxpayers money because of the contract with the company which sorts the refuse.

In response, the city has a campaign called "Focus on the Four" in an attempt to better educate the public about what is and isn't recyclable.

The last time the benchmark was measured, there was roughly 30 percent contamination of the recyclables.

Keri Fothergill, Community Involvement Coordinator for the Trash and Recyling program, says that does mean taxpayers have to cough up extra money for the recycling service.

"We do pay a penalty when our contamination rate is over a certain percentage, which is 15 percent," she told KRMG. "It does cost the utility customer in the long run, so that's why we launched the 'Focus on the Four' educational campaign.'"
The "four" the city wants people to recycle are:
  • Aluminum & Steel Cans
  • Paper & Cardboard
  • Plastic (#1-7)
  • Glass jars and bottles
The main problem, Fothergill told KRMG, is that too many people throw away single-use plastic bags, like the kind used by most grocery stores.
While technically those bags are recyclable, they are not recyclable in the system used by Tulsa, and actually clog up the machinery that sorts the refuse.
The city wants people to go by the slogan "If in doubt, throw it out," saying its more cost-effective in the long run to have some recyclables go into the trash rather than have trash mixed in with the recyclables.

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