Fort Worth launches recycling education initiative

The City of Fort Worth recently launched a campaign to educate people about what specifically they are supposed to recycle.

The city says too many people are putting the wrong things in the recycling bin, and it’s costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

The city says about 30% of what people put in their recycling bins is actually contaminated and ends up in the landfill. So the city is asking people to wait and think about where this article should really go.

At the Republic Services Recycling Facility in Fort Worth, you’ll find a moving maze of conveyor belts, specialized machinery, and people sorting materials by hand.

RJ Hillman took FOX 4 to tour the facility.

“Here in pre-sorting, we look for items that will break our machines and cause problems, jams and jams,” he explained.

Things like garden hoses, extension cords, Christmas lights, and plastic bags all clog machines.

“It’s like an AI system,” Hillman said. “He knows what it is, he knows how to recognize it and therefore where to sort it.”

Every day, 400 tons of plastic containers, cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and glass are resold or reused from the Fort Worth facility alone. It is a source of revenue for both the company and its subcontractor: the city of Fort Worth.

But Brandon Bennett of Fort Worth Code Compliance says there’s a big problem.

“About 20 to 30 percent of what gets here at the Materials Recycling Facility ends up being waste, and it should never have gone to the cart in the first place,” he said. “That’s about $2.5 million in lost revenue every year.”

So the city came up with a new educational campaign called WAIT, or “Where Am I Tossing?”

The city wants people to know better which materials can actually be recycled.

“We actually go into neighborhoods, and we open up people’s recycling containers and look to see what’s in there,” Bennett said.

Its website also has a “waste wizard” where you can enter an item, and it will tell you whether it should be thrown away or recycled. There is also an app.

The bottom line: More efficient recycling means more revenue for the city, and it means fewer rate hikes to pay for the service.

“The more people are successful in recycling, the lower our costs and the higher the revenue we get and the more we can impose an increased fee on our residents,” Bennett said.