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Atascadero cracking down on what goes into residents’ recycling bins

Posted at 6:18 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-29 22:01:48-04

The City of Atascadero will soon crack down on residents for not putting the correct items in their recycling bins.

The city is working to get the word out because in about a month from now, if residents willfully throw the wrong trash in the recycle bin, they could be charged a $50 fee.

“I think it’s a good effort,” said Jeannie Stamp. “I think that people should be careful about what they put in the recycling bins for the environment for sure.”

Starting May 1, 2019, Atascadero Waste Alternatives will be able to collect a $50 fee from folks who excessively or continually put just about anything in their recycling bin.

“We’re not talking about someone who has put something in there like, we’ll say a milk carton, thinking that’s recyclable and not understanding that it’s not,” explained Lara Christensen, Deputy City Manager.

But if your bin has, for example, a foam mattress pad and trash, lawn chairs or even bags of clothes, after a warning, you could have to pay the fine.

“People that are putting stuff that is very obviously not recyclable into their recycle cans,” Christensen said.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Bruce Stamp. “I think a lot of people abuse the recycling rules.”

North SLO County Recycling and Atascadero Waste Alternatives have been working with the city over the past year to come up with ways to address the 20 percent contamination they’ve reported in the residential recycling loads.

Here’s what’s allowed in the bins:

“It’s much more expensive now to process recyclables than it ever has been and so we really want to make sure that a couple people’s habits aren’t costing all the customers more because it’s causing the rates to increase,” Christensen concluded.

“We’re going to be real careful from now on, for sure,” Stamp said.

All customers will be notified about the new fee.

Commercial waste bins could be charged, too, in addition to overfilling their bins.

In February, the city approved North SLO County Recycling’s request to pay more to process recyclables. Trash rates were increased by about $4 for Atascadero residents at that time.