Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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Yearlong program to spot-check recycling carts in Clark County

‘Oops’ tags to remind residents about no-nos

By , Columbian staff reporter
Published:

Recycling specialists are again heading into Clark County neighborhoods for spot-checks on what should not be placed in blue recycling carts.

Starting Monday, Waste Connections of Washington Inc. employees will launch a yearlong program to check recycling carts prior to curbside pickup.

If plastic grocery bags, plastic food clamshells, frozen food packaging, paper towels, food-soiled cardboard, plastic wrap, block foam, shredded paper and other items are spotted, a reminder “oops” tag will be placed on the cart indicating those items.

Recycling specialists will wear safety vests or other high-visibility clothing and drive Waste Connections vehicles. They will only lift a cart’s lid, peek at its contents and note items that should not be in the cart. They will not touch or remove items.

Residents who receive “oops” tags can expect to receive follow-up notifications, via email or written letter, further explaining the issue.

Josy Wright, recycle manager for Waste Connections, said her company has two employees who will focus on year-round checks.

Waste Connections drivers have been leaving “oops” tags for years and will continue to do so when they see nonaccepted items in recycling carts, she said.

Spot-checks will be made in neighborhoods across Clark County. Recycling specialists may return to some neighborhoods more than once.

Occasionally, recycling specialists or drivers will find a recycling cart with an excessive amount of unaccepted items or hazardous waste. In these situations, the recycling cart will not be emptied, and the customer will need to remove the unaccepted materials or request a Waste Connections garbage truck empty the cart, at an additional charge to the customer.

The program aims to provide tailored recycling feedback to residents. Waste Connections and its partners at Clark County, Vancouver and other cities also will use the program to develop education and outreach efforts to help residents recycle right.

People with questions about the program or recycling in general can contact Waste Connections by email, recyclehelp@wasteconnections.com, or phone, 360-892-5370.

Recycling specialists have previously done these type of spot-checks and have generated positive results.

In 2012, a similar program found contamination dropped significantly after customers received educational materials.

• 83 percent of carts that contained plastic bags on the first visit didn’t have them on the second.

• 96 percent of carts that contained glass bottles on the first visit didn’t have them on the second.

• 78 percent of carts that contained other various contaminants on the first visit were “clean” on the second.

Wright said Waste Connections is basing its program on past efforts and research from the The Recycling Partnership, a Falls Church, Va.-based nonprofit organization working to increase the quantity and quality of curbside recycling.

Residents who want to learn more about what can and cannot be recycled can use the “Recycling A-Z Directory” on Waste Connections website, wcnorthwest.com, or download the RecycleRight app at the same location.

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