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Recycling in Tucson: Are we doing enough?

Posted at 8:09 AM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 11:30:54-04

We all know about the importance of recycling. However, are people in Southern Arizona doing enough to reduce the impact on the environment?

According to Waste Management, only 1 in 3 Americans actively recycle.

However, a spokesperson with Waste Management tells me as recycling is becoming easier, the popularity has increased in Arizona. Unfortunately, that does not mean we are doing enough. Research shows landfills are quickly filling up in Arizona, a lifetime of a landfill is now only at about 20 years. That may certainly bring consequences, "landfills are a finite resource, if we keep putting stuff in them-, they're going to fill up and where does the next one go?"Waste Management spokesperson Isha Cogborn said.

Cogborn believes we will all see the impact of not recycling in a near future, whether it is in what we are spending in trash removal or the long-term effects on the environment. She also tells KGUN9 that the real concern in Southern Arizona is not that people are not recycling enough, but that they are not being educated on how to recycle.

In fact, a recent Environmental Services survey found that approximately 90% of Tucsonans regularly set out their blue barrel for recycling. Unfortunately, 20% of the material put in blue barrels is not recyclable. Cogborn argues that is because people don't know the "do's and dont's" To make things simple to understand, the Waste Management wants people to focus on these three rules:

-Only reccyle bottles, cans paper and cardboard

- Never recycle food or liquids

- Recycle plastic bags at the grocery store.

If you find yourself struggling to remember these rules, you can always print reminder signs for your recycling bin. Print one here.

Where do all the recyclables go?

It is a lengthy process, Cogborn explains. The recyclables here go onto Reed Community, who is one of the partners that helps process recyclables. From there, they are divided into separate streams. Different types of plastics, cans, paper and then from there it goes down to manufacturers who want to take that as a feed stock to make new material.

Meanwhile, Cogborn tells us a common question is "if recycling is not offered where I live, what can I do?" If you live in unincorporated areas and have contracted service with Waste Management or another company, then you have an option of saying you want recycling service.
If you live in an apartment complex and recycling is not offered, the best thing you can do is to let the community manager know that recycling is something that you want.

Is recycling free?

For some home owner associations your trash and recycling service is built into your HOA rate. However, some apartment communities may have a separate fee for trash and recycling.
You can also take your recycling to the several recycling drop off locations in Tucson. Here's a map of the locations available within city limits.

Learn more about recycling here.