Poor recycling habits costing taxpayers more money

Poor recycling habits costing taxpayers more money
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Right now, city leaders are taking steps to better educate residents about what they can and can't recycle.

This comes after the most recent audit from Republic Services says almost half of what is going in the blue recycling bins is actually trash.

"We find anything you can think of, garden hoses, kitchen sinks, literally, basketballs, all kinds of junk in those blue recycling bins," said Ignazio Messina, the City of Toledo spokesperson.

What should be recycled is loose cardboard, metal cans, and cleaned out plastic containers, without putting anything in a plastic bag. Plastic bags and debris from yards is what is becoming an issue most frequently.

The most recent audit from Republic Services said 44 percent of what you're putting into your recycling bin is trash.

City leaders believe the audit seems high, but would like that number to be less than 20 percent.

Robert Mockensturm lives in Toledo, but recycles his materials on his own instead of waiting for Republic Services to come pick them up.

"It's very important people put it where it belongs," said Mockensturm.

Mockensturm said he and his wife even bring their own plastic containers to restaurants to avoid using Styrofoam. He believes people aren't paying close enough attention, and don't realize their mistakes are costing them money.

"If there is an incentive to do it, and a negative incentive not to, I think that's good," said Mockensturm.

The poor performance by recyclers in the city is expected to take a bigger chunk of tax dollars this year.

"If we have plastic bags in there or other junk that slows down the process or mucks up the machines that takes time and money to stop that process and sort it out with people," said Messina.

The City paid $1,344,256.21 on processing the recycling stream. City leaders believe Toledo provides on the easiest ways to recycle, putting everything in one bin and having Republic Services pick it up.

Last year in an attempt to change the recycling culture, two city employees followed the recycling trucks around, checking blue bins and then leaving report cards hanging on resident's doors.

This year after the audit, they're upping the enforcement.

"In the next couple weeks we will have 10 people out. We will have an enhanced door hanger to let people know that you didn't do this correctly, please adjust. But, no one has been fined, that is not what we are looking at right now," said Messina.

Other cities do fine for anyone who put recyclables in the trash or vice versa, but Toledo leaders hope they don't get to that point.

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