TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — According to the City of Tucson, millions of dollars are wasted every year on trash mistakenly placed in recycle bins.
"Contamination is definitely something to look out for. It comes in a lot of small forms," said City of Tucson "Feet on the Street" Program Inspector, Angelica Valencia.
It's Valencia's job to spot trash in residential recycle bins before it is processed. For the next two months, she and nine other temporary city employees will walk through Tucson neighborhoods and teach residents how properly recycle. The City of Tucson calls it their "Feet on the Street" program.
"If they open the lid and see something dirty and non-recyclable, they'll put a tag on the back. A resident will see the tag and there's a checklist listing what they had inside the bin. Then the inspector will track it in the app," said Kendra Hall with the City of Tucson Environmental and General Services Department.
Wrongly recycled items like plastic bags, food, liquid, cords and wires could now come with a price. For the first offense, residents will first receive a warning and the city will pick up their recycle bin as trash. For the second and third offense, a fine up to $25 is given.
If a resident violates recycling rules a fourth time, Hall said, "We're going to pull their bin. They're not going to be able to recycle in our program anymore."
By early Summer, Tucson's goal is to reduce recycle bin contamination by 15%.
"Of course, we want to save money so we can do other things, but we also care about recycling. Recycling is good for the environment. We want to keep recycling in Tucson," said Hall.
For more information about proper recycling in the City of Tucson, click here.