The days of sending our garbage to China with a payday for the privilege are coming to an end.
With that, gone are the days when the city could expect a rebate for its recyclables. Instead it’s having to pony up for the program — an estimated $50,000 this year.
Part of this is economics on a scale that extends across the ocean and New Braunfels isn’t alone in having to deal with the change.
But some of this is just a result of people being lazy, sloppy or ignorant about what recycling is and its limitations.
Contaminated recycling is helping drive up the costs of processing the garbage. In the early days the percentage of contaminated materials averaged 17%. Since August of 2016 that percentage has swollen to 25%
Dealing with that contamination costs money and the bill for that eventually filters through the system back to your bottom line — whether you notice it or not.
That’s when items like chains, cords and clothing end up in the recycling submissions. And we can’t forget diapers.
Yes, hold on to your stomach, because the city’s recycling center says it’s averaging 1,200 pounds of diapers per month. And those diapers aren’t clean.
Not only does that pose a health risk for the people dealing with them, but they contaminate everything around them, turning loads of recyclables into landfill fodder.
The city’s answer is simple. If you don’t know if it can be recycled, throw it in the trash. At least that way it won’t end up contaminating things that can be recycled.
Taking care of the planet we have isn’t always an easy task, nor is it always cheap, but asking people to take the simple steps needed to properly recycle isn’t a real heavy burden.
The answer may lie in holding people accountable for their poor choices. Nothing might open their eyes — and their nostrils — quite like a few days sorting through 1,200 pounds of dirty diapers.