With all that goes in your recycling cart, do you know what it means to recycle it right? For starters, it means not placing garden hoses in your green waste cart or household batteries in your mixed recycling or garbage cart. Even though recycling has been around for a long time, it can still be very confusing about what goes where. What you do really does matter – a lot! Because, if you are not disposing of your items correctly, chances are, neither are your neighbors and that can add up to a big contamination problem. Sacramento County Department of Waste Management & Recycling (DWMR) encourages everyone to recycle it right!
Let’s sort out recycling!
DWMR provides curbside garbage, recycling and green waste service to about 154,000 customers in the unincorporated area. With that many customers, recycling can easily go wrong. When you load up your recycling cart with clean metals, glass beverage and food containers, and paper, and then you throw in just one unacceptable item such as Styrofoam, a light bulb, or even garbage – especially if it is a greasy pizza box or other food-soiled material – you have just contaminated all your recyclables. When those contaminated recyclables are added to our trucks, it contaminates your neighbor’s recycling, so by the time our truck finishes the route, the entire load will be a mess.
Why is contaminated recycling such a big deal?
When a truckload of recycling has too much contamination, recycling processors either have to slow down the sort line to effectively recover the recyclables, which substantially increases the cost to recycle, or they have to reject the entire load and it’s sent to the landfill. This hurts our program and the environment, which ends up wasting the value of the material and filling up landfill space.
Sacramento County and Sacramento-area municipalities are reminding all customers about the problems of contaminated recycling – for more information, read the insert: Recycle It Right.
What’s in and what’s out?
Now that we know the importance of recycling it right, there are many resources available to help you remember what to put in and what to leave out of your curbside carts! Review acceptable and unacceptable curbside recycling materials. For helpful information to learn how to recycle or properly dispose of specific items, go to the A to Z Materials Guide, or check out the lineup of Recycling Brochures. There are also a host of short recycling videos on the County’s YouTube Utilities & Residential Services Playlist.
Customer outreach – more on recycling it right!
We all have busy lives and are bombarded with information every day. DWMR is currently developing a customer outreach campaign to remind residents about the importance of recycling it right and could include a door hanger “packet” with information on acceptable and unacceptable items for the garbage, green waste, and recycling carts. Additionally, DWMR is researching other measures to reduce contamination in curbside recycling carts before they end up in collection trucks. It is our goal that this outreach will help remind customers what, and what not to put in each cart. By working together, we can reduce contamination and protect our environment.
For waste management and recycling questions: