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City of Mesa drastically reduces list of recyclable items

Posted at 8:47 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-24 20:28:49-04

MESA, AZ — The City of Mesa is the latest city in Arizona to alter its recycling program amid growing costs and low demand overseas.

The city announced on social media recently that it is significantly shortening the list of acceptable items that can be recycled in weekly blue bin pickup services.

The acceptable list now includes:

  • Beverage bottles, jugs and cans:

Examples include water, soda and juice bottles, beer and wine bottles and aluminum soda cans.

  • Metal Food Cans:

Examples include empty, clean and dry soup cans, vegetable cans, canned fruit cans, pet food cans, etc.

  • Cardboard:

Corrugated cardboard only (has a wavy center layer). Remove ALL packaging (plastic air pouches, Styrofoam, etc.) Break down all boxes to maximize space in your barrel.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Cereal, tissue, cracker and other similar types of boxes are made from paperboard material and unfortunately are no longer accepted.

  • Paper:

Only these types of paper: Mail & junk mail (postcards, solicitation flyers, etc.). Office paper (copy paper, envelopes, writing paper). Magazines and newspapers (including inserts).

In an online statement, the city explains the changes in part:

“While recycling still provides environmental benefits, several markets are no longer accepting material from the United States. Some materials currently have such low demand that the volatility of their market value is jeopardizing the financial stability of recycling programs across the country, including Mesa.”

The city says that nationally, approximately 25 percent of all items that are recycled are items that are not actually recyclable and even more are contaminated items. That is one reason that many areas that would purchase recycling from the United States no longer finds it financially viable to do so, lowering the demand across U.S. states.

For example, if a glass container of spaghetti sauce that still has sauce in it is recycled, and the glass breaks, all paper and other products contaminated with the sauce are no longer recyclable and need to be discarded.

Items that are NO LONGER ACCEPTED in Mesa include:

  • Laundry bottles, dish washing liquid bottles, shampoo bottles, mouthwash bottles, etc.
  • Glass food jars
  • Cereal boxes, tissue boxes, cracker boxes, detergent boxes, soda case boxes, and other paperboard items (these items are processed differently than cardboard and regular paper)
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Plastic food jars & food bottles (peanut butter, jelly, mustard, ketchup, etc.)
  • Plastic berry clamshell containers
  • Yogurt containers & margarine tubs
  • Plastic and paper cups
  • Paper bags (most bags tend to be greasy fast food bags or contain non-recyclable items such as handles)
  • Aluminum pie plates and aluminum foil

The city encourages all residents to immediately start following the new guidelines.

For more information and frequently asked questions, visit the City of Mesa website.