Recycle the right way or face a fine of $25. That's the message from the city's solid waste division. It's a new enforcement campaign that became effective July 1.
It's designed to keep waste in its place and out of the blue, curbside recycling bins.
Diaper Do’s and Don'ts
Several months ago, the city unveiled a new television publicity campaign to clean up the waste stream.
The public service announcements feature cute babies crawling across the television screen with messages printed on the backs of their disposable diapers:
Stop putting diapers in the blue recycling bins.
The campaign has gained some traction, but city leaders say it’s not enough. They say nearly one in five local households are still putting waste where it doesn't belong.
How bad is it?
The director of the city's solid waste management division said that 200 pounds of dirty diapers make their way into the recycling stream every hour. He added that, if they were stacked in blue bins, they would be taller than the Tower of the Americas.
And it's not just diapers. Solid Waste Director David McCary said that a small number of people are causing big problems and costing the city money.
"We need those commodities to go on the market to sell and to help keep our costs low, so that's important," McCary said.
McCary noted that the move isn’t not about making money from fines, it's about public education and getting people to do the right thing.
"This isn't about money at all,” McCrary said. “This is about getting our residents to recycle correctly and not utilize it as a second trash cart."
McCary added that violators will be issued warnings and given educational material initially, but that repeat offenders will receive visits from enforcement inspectors. Those inspectors will look for unauthorized items in the blue bins and, when they find violations, they will take pictures for evidence and then apply the fine to the homeowner's CPS Energy bill.
Instructions related to permissible items can be found printed on the blue bins.
Another important resource for the proper disposal of large amounts of trash is available Saturday.
McCary said that Free Landfill Day will take place at 10 locations around town from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
He said that anyone who has a CPS Energy bill with proof of payment of the solid waste disposal fee is eligible to participate.