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Honor Earth Day by properly recycling

Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 18:38:12-04

City leaders see this Earth Day as the perfect time to remind people to recycle.

"It's just a good day to sit back and think about what we're doing and why we're doing it," said city of Corpus Christi Director of Solid Waste Services David Lehfeldt. "And try to think of ways that we can do better. The fact that we've come a long way."

The city has had a recycling program in place for many years, but Lehfeldt said they're always looking for ways to improve.

"We're providing people the option to recycle," he said. "The people who don't want to recycle, don't have to recycle. They can just put it in their trash bin. We encourage everyone to recycle."

Not only does it help the environment, but it also lessen the burden on other city services

"It will help save landfill space," he said. "And we're running about 10,000 tons a year of recyclables now."

But it's only effective if it's done properly, said Texas A&M-CC Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry Jeremy Conkle.

"It only is about 10% effective," he said. "So that means 90 percent of materials that could be recycled are not."

Not only do too few people take advantage of the service — in some respects, Lehfeldt said, people who do put things in recycle bins don't do it properly.

"The other thing that we've really seen is an increase in the contamination," he said. "It went from almost zero. Last year we were up at over 42 percent contamination."

There also are certain items that can be recycled in other cities that the local processors can't handle.

"Glass bottles are not recyclable in our system at this time," Lehfeldt said. "Plastic bags, plastic film, bubble wrap — none of those things are recyclable currently."

But Conkle said just because the city can't handle them doesn't mean they have to be thrown away.

"Bags that had bread in them, and other plastic film, like cellophane, those can't go into the recycling," he said. "What you can do with them is collect them and every week when you go to the grocery store — H-E-B will take that. They have bins at the entrances, to almost all their stores, where you can take and put that in that bin."

But Lehfeldt said it's important for residents to be aware what can't and can't be put into city recycling bins, because, ultimately, it can do more harm than good.

"It's real important that cites actually follow as close as possible because if the materials are outside of what can be taken then that material can be rejected," he said. "And we're not talking about just one batch, but large batches if there is too much contamination. "