City of Denton releases new recycling guidelines

Starting March 1, the city of Denton will be implementing its new recycling policy for homeowners and renters. The city will no longer pick up recycling carts that are contaminated but will tag the carts and pick them up the following week instead.

The city has a single-stream recycling program, and the new guidelines have been implemented to help prevent contamination of recyclables, Sustainable Manager Katherine Barnett said. The update answers questions about confusion on what is recyclable and what isn’t.

Every blue recycling cart should have a sticker with items that are recyclable. It is listed on the city’s recycling website as well.

Barnett asked that citizens “empty, clean, and dry” recyclables and have the items loose in the cart with the lid closed. Residents shouldn’t use plastic garbage bags, either; loose recyclables make it easier for the workers to sort out the products, and the plastic bags can get caught in machinery and cause problems.

Here is list of items you can put in your blue cart, according to the city’s website:

  • Glass bottles

  • Flattened cardboard and box board

  • Aluminum foil and cans

  • Mixed paper

  • Steel cans

  • Cartons and juice boxes

  • Plastic marked with recycling symbol numbers one through seven

Items that are not recyclable:

  • Any plastic bags (no plastic grocery bags or trash bags)

  • Styrofoam

  • Food scraps

  • Paper towels

  • Cardboard soiled in grease (such as pizza boxes)

If homeowners and renters don’t properly sort out their blue carts, they will be tagged and won’t be picked up until the following week when the items have been sorted accordingly. If there are any questions on why your cart was tagged, you can call and ask for clarification at (940) 349-8787.

Barnett stated about 30 percent of what comes in the recycling trucks is contaminated and has to go to the landfill.

“That means 70 percent is not [contaminated], so we are doing pretty good,” she said. “But we still want to have those contamination numbers go down.”

Postcards are supposed to have been mailed out to Denton homeowners and tenants on the service update, and tips are posted on the city’s Facebook page.

One Denton resident said the new policy is “ridiculous” because she pays a $30 fee each month for the city to pick up and sort the trash and recycling.

“We do the best we can to sort it for them into the proper bins, but I absolutely will never recycle again if I get ‘tagged’ for putting a pizza box in the wrong bin against their rules,” Paula Blackwell said. “They act as if they've been doing us a favor by instituting a recycling program, but the fact is, it's a hassle to get the kids and house guests to cooperate.”

Barnett said a key reason for the change is due to the recycling market change. China is not currently purchasing the U.S.’ recycling. She said Denton hasn’t been affected but the market as a whole has.

“Everybody just wants the recyclables to be more clean,” Barnett said. “We aren’t asking people to go really above and beyond. If you aren’t sure, just throw it in the trash. If it has food waste, then it needs to go in the trash.”

Barnett continued to say she doesn’t need to be “reprimanded” for doing something that is safe for the environment (recycling).

Jay Swafford said Denton homeowners and renters need to either know and follow the new guidelines or dispose of all items into the trash.

“I think once people understand why they put the policy in place, it will go over much better,” the Swafford said. “It will take some getting used to, and there will always be people who complain, but I don’t mind it.”

Header image courtesy of Unsplash.

Header by Kylie Phillips.