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What Do We Get Wrong About Recycling?

Airman 1st Class Brittany Barker/U.S. Air Force http://bit.ly/2zaZSWJ

How has America’s attitude toward recycling changed over the years? What more can be done to educate and empower people to start recycling or improve the status quo? Experts on the forefront of recycling efforts in the state – from Keep Texas Beautiful, The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling, and the City of San Antonio – speak to "The Source" on National Recycling Day, Thursday at noon. 

The movement to "reduce, reuse and recycle" has retrained generations of Americans to think that it's easy enough to dispose of recyclable materials like aluminum cans, plastics and paper in an effort to protect the planet.

However, recycling the "wrong" way can lead to wasted time, effort and cost millions of dollars for local governments and processing facilities. 

The City of San Antonio collects garbage, recycling and compostable material weekly from homes and businesses. When trash or non-recyclable items are unexpectedly mixed in, the collection is essentially contaminated and the load will be sent to a landfill. 

The city can issue fines for these mistakes and has raised the monthly price of large brown garbage carts per household this fiscal year. The rate hike was a move to encourage residents to select a smaller option or make more use of the designated blue recycling and green compost bins, respectively.

San Antonio's Solid Waste Management department hopes to improve its recycling rate – currently at 33 percent – to 60 percent by 2025. 

How is recycling material collected and processed? What are the most common misconceptions about recycling and how can the public be empowered to recycle properly?

The U.S. recycling industry has been hit recently by the so-called trade war with China over tariffs, even affecting Texas cities like El Paso. What impact does reuse of materials and recycling have on the economy, environment and the community?

Click here for a list of accepted and non-accepted items for recycling in the City of San Antonio.


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

Audio for this interview will be available by 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 15.

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Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.