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Contaminated recycle bins are costing Tucson taxpayers $30K every month

90% of Tucsonans regularly put out recycle bin
City of Tucson recycle.jpg
Posted at 4:55 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 19:55:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Contaminated recycle bins are costing Tucson taxpayers about $30,000 every month.

The City of Tucson confirmed this amount, saying 29% of recycled material is considered contaminated.

"In a recent survey, Environmental and General Services found that approximately 90% of Tucsonans regularly set out their blue barrel for recycling. That is a great participation rate," the City shared online. "Unfortunately, 30% of the material put in blue barrels is not recyclable."

The following items are common contaminants:

  • Plastic bags
  • Dirty diapers
  • Garden hoses
  • Used clothing
  • Tree trimming

Republic Services, the company responsible for picking up the blue recycling barrels, cannot use any recycled materials if there is one single item contaminating the bin(s).
The company also charges the City when more than 15% of bins are contaminated, which happens regularly.

For more on recycling in the area, please visit

Caleb Fernández is a digital content producer for KGUN 9. After earning his bachelor's degree from Penn State in Advertising/Public Relations, Caleb went to New York where he learned production assistance, photography and art direction. Share your story ideas and important issues with Caleb by emailing or by connecting on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.