CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi’s twice-weekly recycling drive is working well for residents like David Prinz, who says his home’s recycling bin fills up about every two weeks.
“I put water bottles, cardboard and papers (in the trash), and that’s it,” he said. “Everything else needs to be cleaned or rinsed off. I’m not going to mess this up.”
The city’s recycling guidelines state that recyclable paper, metal, and plastic must be “empty, clean, and dry.”
But the man in charge of the city’s recycling program says the biggest problem is residents putting items in their bins that can’t be recycled at all.
“For every six pounds of recyclables someone puts in there, someone else puts in four pounds of trash,” said solid waste director David Lehfeldt. “It’s a real concern because we pay a premium for our recycling materials to be processed and sold.”
Contamination costs the city – and therefore taxpayers – about $500,000 a year. That’s why Recycle Clean started right after the start of the new year.
The city has hired four compliance officers to inspect the recycling bins that residents sit on the sidewalk for inappropriate items.
At first, these officers will stick only so-called “oops stickers” on trash cans to remind residents to look out for what is — and isn’t — recyclable in Corpus Christi.
“We’re not looking to fine anyone,” Lehfeldt said. “We’re not looking to drive anyone crazy. We’re just looking to educate.”
But if a resident ignores this lesson and continues to use their recycling bin as a trash can four times, the city will take further action. This person will be removed from the recycling program and their recycling bin will be confiscated for six months.
After that time has elapsed, the offender will have another chance to recycle appropriately.
“We really don’t want to take the container away from anyone,” Lehfeldt said. “Our preference is for everyone to learn how to use it and do it correctly. Because that way the whole city benefits.”
Prinz considers the rules requiring the cleaning, rinsing and drying of food containers and other recyclables to be “strict”, but he is more than willing to follow other rules, such as no building materials in the bins. of recycling.
“Oh no – never,” he said as he sawed through some wood he was using for a backyard project. “(I) never throw things like that – not in a trash can.”