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Contamination: What’s the big deal?

Jan 18, 2020 | Contamination


“What is going on with recycling?” “Why can’t I put this plastic in your bin?” “I’ve always been putting these in the recycling!” “You don’t take mattresses? I’ve always left them there”?

We have heard it all. We want to make recycling easier for you. Let’s give you a few things to consider when recycling:

1) Make sure your items are CLEAN, DRY, EMPTY. Food, liquids and other items found in your “recycling” may contaminate an entire load of recyclables.

2) PLASTIC BAGS ARE HUGE PROBLEMS. Consider what happens when you throw a plastic bag in a plastic bottles and jugs bin. This bag contaminates the load. It gets shipped to a Material Recovery Facility. Goes through a recycling sorter and finally stuck inside of a machine. This requires the company to shut down its process, place the machine out of order using lock out tag out procedures and can place employees lives at risk when removing plastic bags from inside the gears and machine.

3) Just because it’s a plastic doesn’t mean it’s recyclable. For example, we see plastic toys placed in our bins. While we appreciate the desire to recycle, placing only items clearly marked on the bins is important. Always follow the instructions on the bins and signs located at your public drop off.

These signs will be appearing at sites all over the district. Make sure you read them carefully to ensure we have clean recycling. 


  1. Vicki Mittas

    If contamination is a problem, why are all the dumpster empyted into the same truck?

    • Steve Tharp

      Great question!

      We have three routes (paper, cardboard, and co-mingle). Paper and cardboard are both considered to be fibers and go to the same vendor, Slesnick. We have one truck for each. However, there can be times we could have them put into the same truck. This isn’t a problem for us since they go to the same vendor. We separate them for two reasons: 1) we get more volume in each bin when we separate them and 2) the stream is cleaner when it is one item. Our comingled route consists of metal cans, plastic bottles and jugs, and glass bottles and jars. Each of those has its own bin. They all go in the same truck and go to our vendor, Kimble. We separate each item at the recycling site because when we break them out, we get a cleaner material. Currently, we are in the process of changing our labels to assist residents like yourself. Putting the items in the same truck doesn’t contaminate a route. It starts with the individual who puts something like a table, lawnmower or deer carcass, to name a few examples into our bins. We see many residents placing things in our bins that have never been recyclable. Our goal is to provide labels that help assist the resident. We are also adding signs that further assist residents with what we don’t want as well. Great question! Please feel free to ask more questions and engage us! We love it!


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