City of Tucson changing recycling program

TUCSON — Poor recycling practices and risings costs are pushing the City of Tucson to change its recycling program.

“Most of the recycling bins were either half full or a third full,” said Carlos De La Torre, Director of Environmental and General Services for the City of Tucson.

Starting Sept. 30, the city will change recycle pickups to twice a month instead of every week as a way to keep rates the same.

“Since we know we still have enough volume in the bin that didn’t need to be serviced on a weekly basis, we proposed that to mayor and council back in April,” said De La Torre. “Council basically gave us the authority to move forward with that program.”

Recycling from the City of Tucson is processed at Republic Services and then sold and shipped. Their biggest customer was China. But within the past year, China’s tightened regulations.

According to De La Torre, China once accepted recyclables with five percent contamination. Now they only accept half a percent.

“We do know that China is not taking it anymore and we’re having to find new buyers,” said Jake Anderson, General Manager at Republic Services said. “We’re having to strike up new relationships and, from a domestic standpoint, it’s much more difficult than it used to be.”

So what can you do? Anderson said stop putting your plastic bags in the recycling bins. Instead, drop them off at your local store that recycles them.

“The demand for recycling exists,” Anderson said. “If people are generally concerned about the environment, well being not just for themselves but for your kids and for your grandkids, it’s time to pay for the commodity stream as it exists today.”