With the South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) hitting the streets to audit recycling bins, the crews see blue bins in front of virtually every home in Las Cruces. However, it’s become clear there are still a few hiccups in the recycling process. Some residents are not understanding that the blue bin is NOT a second trash can. “The crews have encountered a handful of carts where the resident is using the blue cart exclusively for trash,” said Tarkeysha Burton, SCSWA Education & Outreach Coordinator.
In general, however, the most common wrong items being found in the blue carts are:
- plastic shopping bags
- food-soiled chip board and plastic containers, and
- used, food-soiled Styrofoam items, like cups and plates.
Plastic bags are hazardous to the mechanics of recycling when they reach the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where automation is used. Plastic bags stretch into long chains of plastic that wind themselves around moving parts at the MRF; the bags can break or stop the entire process. Then, crews must painstakingly remove the plastic by hand. Remember “Bag your Trash! NOT your Recyclables.” Trash generally includes decomposing organics (food waste). We bag trash to contain odors, rotting food trimmings and discourage insect infestations. Recyclables, however, should be clean, dry and loose in the blue bin – no bagging. To make the best use of your plastic grocery bags today, please bag them together and head to your local grocery store. Look for the large cardboard box at the front of the store to drop off your bagged bags.
NOT RECYCLABLE: Food-soiled containers, such as greasy pizza boxes, contaminate and breed microorganisms throughout all recyclable materials in the bin. Melted cheese, oil, grease and other food contamination soaks into paper and cardboard in the bin, ruining it for recycling. Lastly, Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene (EPS), of any kind, is non-recyclable. Styrofoam is commonly seen as used food containers – already a no-no from the above description – but Styrofoam and plastics are sometimes hidden inside perfectly good corrugated shipping boxes. So, please check your Amazon packaging: if plastic or Styrofoam cannot be removed… throw the box into your trash bin and don’t feel guilty.