The city of Battle Creek is easing in a new program to encourage people to do a better job of recycling.  Patty Hoch-Melluish is the city’s Environmental and Storm Services Manager.  She says that starting Monday, November 2nd, Waste Management Workers will start tagging recycling carts that have the wrong stuff in them.

She said the action is needed because a lot of truckloads of recycled material are being rejected at the Holland, Michigan facility. “It doesn’t take much to contaminate an entire truckload, “said Hoch Melluish.  “We can have all the neighbors doing a great job and then we have a couple of people on the street that are putting their trash or things that aren’t recyclable in there.”

She says the charge for a bad truckload is $1,600, and on top of that, the whole load ends up in a landfill.

Hoch-Melluish said the city has been working with Waste Management to improve things, and that has led to piloting a small-scale tagging program to help with the contamination problem. Carts with contamination will be tagged with a red sticker and the cart won't be serviced.  If a cart is identified as having contamination two weeks later, it will be tagged a second time.  If it happens a third time, the recycling cart will be removed from the residence. “We’ll work under the assumption that that household is not interested in recycling.”

Hoch-Melluish said materials in the recycling cart need to be clean, dry, and the most important thing is no plastic bags.  “Not even if you have good recycling material in the plastic bags.  No plastic like the wraps that come wrapped around a case of bottled water”, stated Hoke-Melluish. “We’ve had a lot of questions lately about people trying to help out with the sorting process by putting junk mail, magazines, and newspapers in a paper bag.  That seems like it would be a really helpful thing to do but we just need everything just loose in that cart.”  She said an empty paper bag is ok but the issue is that crews just don’t have time to look in every bag.

The Monday, November 2nd routes will be the focus initially with the program expanding to reach other areas in the City, as resources allow.  “We’re going to start slowly”, said Hoch-Melluish.  “It’s very labor-intensive, but we think it’s the next step in helping to curb our contamination problem.”

Here are a few things you may not have already known about recycling:

  • Laundry detergent bottles should be rinsed out and drained and then re-capped.
  • Pizza boxes shouldn’t have crusts or leftover food in them.
  • Shredded paper is a no-no, but regular clean paper and cardboard are ok.
  • Items in plastic bags is a BIG problem. Same for wet and rotting boxes.  Don’t!
  • Plastics with the recycle number from 1-7 are ok, as long as they’re clean and dry.
  • Cans that held food are ok, (again clean and dry), but not paint cans of any kind.

For a list of do’s and don’t, check out this Waste Management internet site.

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