Recyclables Going in the Wrong Bin?

by Suzanne Michaels

Tarkeysha Burton, SCSWA recycling coordinator, looks into a completely empty blue recycling bin. But the brown trash dumpster – just a few feet away – is filled with trash and recyclables.
Tarkeysha Burton, SCSWA recycling coordinator, looks into a completely empty blue recycling bin. But the brown trash dumpster – just a few feet away – is filled with trash and recyclables.

Tarkeysha Burton, SCSWA Recycling Coordinator says, “I’m guessing our community could increase our diversion rate of recyclables by almost 40% if the staff taking out the recyclables to the bin would just put recyclable material in the blue bin instead of the brown one.”

“It’s amazing,” says Burton, “how often I find the blue bin totally empty. But just a few feet away, the brown trash dumpster is piled HIGH with recyclables as well as trash.”

One of the many tasks assigned to South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) Recycling Coordinator Tarkeysha Burton is inspecting 6 and 8 cubic yard recycling dumpsters. She records the amount of material in the recycling dumpster, estimates the amount of contamination, possible safety concerns, and overall aesthetics of the recycling dumpster at every site. “We have more than 200 commercial accounts, so these are random inspections. It’s not like every dumpster is checked every week,” adds Burton.

Recycling dumpsters are the big blue metal dumpsters with recycling information posted on front. They are commonly positioned right next to the garbage dumpsters at schools, commercial and industrial businesses, and city/county government sites.

“Maybe,” hypothesizes Burton, “there is not enough explanation to the janitorial staff about what is recyclable and what is not? Not enough explanation about why we recycle?”

In this particular instance, the recyclable materials in the trash dumpster were clean and

High quality cardboard boxes that are clean and dry could have collapsed and placed in the blue bin for recycling, instead of going into our landfill. (PHOTO: Courtesy photo)
Clean and dry cardboard boxes found in a trash dumpster just steps away from a recycling dumpster. (PHOTO: Courtesy photo)

dry, high quality cardboard. It would have only taken a couple of minutes to collapse the boxes and put them in the blue bin, which stood very nearby and totally empty.

If you have a business or work for an agency with a big blue recycling dumpster, please make sure recyclables are making it into the recycling bin.  If you don’t currently have a recycling dumpster at your business, contact SCSWA today at (575) 528-3800 to find out how you can start recycling.

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