New Recycling Programs Could Be Coming To Phoenix

Published: Saturday, March 18, 2017 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017 - 8:20am
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(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
The "tipping floor" at the 27th Avenue Transfer Station shows organic material, like landscaping scraps, that could have been used in composting.

New programs will likely be needed if Phoenix wants to meet its recycling goals. By 2020, council members want to see 40 percent of waste diverted from the landfill. That’s going to involve more recycling and composting. And, it will also mean more employees and equipment.

The Public Works Department wants to take a pilot program that offers curbside recycling for tree limbs and grass clippings, known as green organics, citywide. During a recent meeting, Ginger Spencer with Public Works said they also want to create a program to collect textiles. 

“The number one item after dirt and broken glass we find in our recycling containers, the blue containers, is textiles,” she said. “It’s clothing, purses, shoes, belts. And so what we want to do is offer an RFP (request for proposal) program where we would get those textiles out of the recycling bins and get them to nonprofits and for-profits that could benefit from the textiles and repurpose them or resell them.” 

Tougher enforcement is another path the city of Phoenix might take to meet its goals. While the department emphasizes education, Public Works Director John Trujillo said they still spend a lot of time of time and money on materials that aren’t put in the right containers.

“What other cities do is they’ll give them a red sticker, and they won’t pick up the container,” he said. “So, if they put the wrong things in the recycling container, they’ll leave it until the resident removes it and then the city will come back and pick it up.”  

For every 100,000 tons of material that’s diverted from the landfill, Spencer said the department saves $1.7 million. She said the department has saved money by becoming more efficient, but it faces higher pension, insurance and equipment costs. 

Trash-collection fees on 400,000 households were last raised in 2009. The department will crunch numbers over the summer and is expected to present a detailed budget this fall.