The city of Battle Creek, Michigan, along with Houston-based Waste Management, its contracted waste hauler, has launched a pilot recycling cart tagging program designed to help reduce the city’s recycling contamination.
Starting Nov. 2, Waste Management drivers began focusing on small sections of the city’s recycling route to identify recycling carts that had been contaminated with nonrecyclables. Waste Management then tagged contaminated carts with red stickers on their lids, indicating that trash or other nonrecyclable materials had gone in the carts.
Patty Hoch-Melluish, environmental and storm service manager for the city of Battle Creek, says recycling contamination seemed high, which prompted the city and Waste Management to pursue a new recycling education campaign.
“We’ve been brainstorming what we can do to start making a dent” in improving the contamination rates, she says. “Waste Management said they have seen some improvements [in communities] that use this education campaign. We mutually came to the agreement that this would be effective.”
According to a news release from the city, Waste Management is not emptying carts if they are tagged.
“If [Waste Management] tags your cart, you must correct the situation by removing the contamination,” the city-states. “The tag will include [Waste Management’s] phone number (800-796-9696), and you can call with questions on the material in your cart. [Waste Management] will tag a contaminated cart twice. The third time they find contamination, they will take away your recycling cart. You can get back your recycling cart after having a phone call with city staff to learn which materials are allowed in your curbside cart.
“This is an effort to help Battle Creek recycle right,” the city adds.
Hoch-Melluish says the city hopes to continue this recycling education initiative until the end of the year.
“It all kind of hinges on what Waste Management, their staffing, can handle,” she says. “We’d like to continue it as long as they can handle it and expand it.”