Bad trash jams recycling effort, drives up costs

Stuffed animals and electronics are a few of the things that can damage the recycling equipment. (Cronkite News staff photo)

Every day about 350 tons of waste materials venture through a series of conveyors and are organized into piles at the Waste Management recycling facility in Surprise. The end product results in towering stacks of bottles, paper, cans and other recyclable items.

Yet, sometimes workers discover something different. José Herrera, Waste Management plant manager, comes across things like stuffed animals, electronics and more.

“They really compromise our processing either jamming the equipment, causing damage to the equipment like ripping belts, broken equipment or basically even as dangerous as fires,” Herrera said.

When the unwanted items get through, the value of the recyclable bundles declines, and the process takes longer.

“By slowing down the system it creates additional recycling costs,” Herrera said.

However, these costs are not taken care of by Waste Management.

“It increase costs, which end up being passed along to our customers,” said Isha Cogborn, Waste Management spokeswoman.

Cogborn said there are a few ways to prevent this.

“Make sure that you know what is acceptable in your recycling program and that you are putting the right materials into your bin.”

She also advises to visit for more information about recycling.