Representatives from Rhode Island Resource Recovery say they've seen a significant increase in the number of recycling loads that are contaminated with garbage, leading them to institute a new $250 fine for each infraction.
Sarah Kite-Reeves, director of recycling services for RIRRC, told The Breeze it was last year that officials started noticing more trash than ever being mixed in with recycling materials. The problem got so bad this year that they instituted new higher fines, she said.
Workers are finding all kinds of garbage in the recycling bins, said Kite-Reeves, from furniture and old fencing to fish heads and garden hoses.
Kite-Reeves said officials are having difficulty understanding why people are throwing so much trash in the large recycling bins, and can only conclude that there needs to be more education to reinforce that the barrels are only for recycling. The situation "came to a head" in Providence, said Kite-Reeves, where officials are having "severe difficulty communicating proper recycling rules."
"We're wondering where that disconnect is," said Kite-Reeves. "By 'single stream,' we did not mean all garbage and recycling in the same bin. Maybe that message didn't get out clear enough."
Numbers provided by the RIRRC show that communities in northern Rhode Island are doing well enough complying with the regulations to save themselves from both the fine money and protecting their reimbursement cash for higher recycling rates.