The City of San Antonio is now assessing fines if residents don't recycle correctly. Starting this month, city officials set a $25 fine for people found throwing trash in their blue recycling bins.
Among other issues, MySanAntonio.com reports that "crews at the city’s recycling center that sort the items from the blue bins that are picked up curbside once a week are pulling out some 200 pounds of dirty diapers an hour. They’ve also found needles, organic material such as grass and leaves — and dead deer and shark heads, among other things."
The city's Solid Waste Management department sent mailers out to residents saying “GARBAGE IN YOUR BLUE CART WILL RESULT IN A $25 FINE.” It's also posted information about the fine and about what can and can't be placed in blue bins at its website.
The department has an inspection team that will inspect bins. First violators will have tags placed on their carts telling them that their bins won't be picked up until the trash is removed. After a warning, residents found to continue to put trash in their recycling bins will see fines in their monthly energy bills.
Currently, the city estimates the rate of contamination to be 23 percent, according to the MySanAntonio.com report.
San Antonio is not the first city to use fines as a way of attempting to boost diversion rates. Cincinnati put a fine in place last year.
More notably, Seattle passed regulations in 2014 that took effect in January 2015 that included the approval of a $1 fine for people who tossed too much food waste into their cans. This was later challenged by residents in a privacy lawsuit. A judge in in April ultimately issued an injunction against Seattle’s required trash inspections.
FoxSanAntonio.com has more on what's playing out in San Antonio:
"You've got trash bags and sometimes you might see a little sprinkle of recyclables on top," says David McCarry, Director of The San Antonio Solid Waste Management Department.
"We are seeing pampers and hazardous materials," he adds.
McCarry also says that it does cost the department extra to have to send a special truck to collect the trash if it is not recycled correctly. That used to cost the taxpayer, but now it may cost the individual.