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El Paso Recycling Program Heading in Right Direction, Lowered Contamination

Years after a disappointing audit, El Paso’s recycling program is now on the right track and saving more space in local landfills.

September 7, 2023

1 Min Read
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Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

Years after a disappointing audit, El Paso’s recycling program is now on the right track and saving more space in local landfills.

In its first decade, El Paso’s curbside recycling program was not very successful, but now, a year and a half after a new company has taken over, it seems that the program is heading in the right direction. So far this year, the contamination rate of items in recycling bins has fallen by 24%, which is a smidge higher than the goal set by city officials.

Scott Berry, the district manager for Waste Connections, says that the city’s recycling contamination rate “affects us greatly.”

“The lower (contamination) the better, because that means we’re getting better product out of what’s brought to us that we can actually market and sell,” Berry said. “The more contamination you have, the more cost it is to us. We have to haul the trash off.”

The city stopped picking up recycling bins near the end of 2020 due to a staffing shortage. When pickups resumed in 2021, more than a third of everything collected in the blue bins was problematic and couldn’t be recycled. Thus, the city had to pay to send it to a landfill.

The drop in recycling contamination is due to the city’s educational program that shows El Paso residents what is and what isn’t recyclable. The first thing that Berry urges the people of El Paso not to throw away are lithium-ion batteries and items such as e-cigarettes.

Waste Connections bought the El Paso recycling facility in 2022 as well as another recycling facility in Albuquerque.

Read the full article here.

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