The City of Tucson is shifting curbside recycling from weekly to every other week beginning Sept. 1. The city says the reduction in pickups is part of an effort to stem losses in its recycling program. The collapse in the international market for recyclables as China and other nations no longer accept many plastic and paper products has increased costs of the city’s recycling program.
Reducing the frequency of recycling collection is expected to save the city $1.4 million a year. The city also will take $2 million from the hotel bed surcharge to cover increased recycling processing costs. Residents will continue to pay the same amount for recycling services.
The city is paying $30,000 a month in fees due to a high amount of contaminated materials in its recycling bins. Some 30% of the items brought to the recycling plant is garbage — not recyclables, estimates show. “We’ve had dead dogs, we’ve had dirty diapers, we’ve had people throw clothes away,” Councilman Steve Kozachik said.
The decision to reduce service, made during an April Tucson City Council meeting, is a stop-gap measure. It’ll be in place for roughly a year while city officials consider more changes to the recycling program. “This is a small Band-Aid,” Kozachik said about the reduction in home pickup service. “The largest issue is that we create too much waste.”