Mixed Up Recycling Causing Headaches for the City of Midland

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Many Midlanders may begin with the right intentions in an effort to "go green." And over the past couple months, more and more Midland neighbors have decided to recycle. But what's going in the bins can't be re-used, and that's causing headaches for city workers.

"When they come in and they're cold mingled with trash and food and yard waste and house waste, it gets very time consuming to get in there and sort it all out," Kevin Butts, Owner of Butts Recycling said.

Butts Recycling contracts with the City of Midland and each month 160 tons rolls into the center.

"They're putting the commodities in the wrong bins, cold mingling, they're getting a bag and putting aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and tin cans and they're putting it in one bag," Butts said.

A good rule of thumb for recycling plastics is the top should be smaller than the bottom. But when things like a laundry basket end up in the pile, they have to send it off to a landfill, and that comes straight out of the taxpayer pockets.

"We don't do it very often, but when we have a load refused because of contamination, yes it's frustrating," Midland Solid Waster Superintendent Morris Williams, Jr., said. "It's time consuming and it's not something that we want to do. We're trying to make this recycling program work as best we can."

But Midland isn't the only city with mixed up bins, Butts Recycling also works with Stanton, Monahans and other West Texas towns where recycling has increased by about 7% since March. 
"Maybe people are a little more frustrated with the recession and they're not trying as hard, or on the flip side, they're trying harder and just putting them in the wrong containers," Butts said.

So they're trying to encourage Midlanders to sort it all out.

"If it's cardboard, just make sure it's clean cardboard, if it's paper, just make sure it's paper," Williams said.