Tulsa’s curbside recycling program restarts Monday, with the City asking residents to again start separating recyclables from their trash. For the last nine months, the program was crippled after a fire destroyed the plant that processed recyclables. Since then, recyclables were hauled along with regular trash and incinerated. With the processing plant closed, the City figures 15,000 tons of aluminum, steel, paper and plastic was burned.
The City announced Thursday the restart of the program, beginning with regular trash pickup Monday, January 31. While some residents have used the recycling cart for extra trash capacity, Josh Noel, a Community Outreach Coordinator with the City, said that won’t be allowed with the program starting up again. “Come Monday if those cans are contaminated, they will not be serviced and we really want to focus on having clean and loose recyclables in the blue recycling cart,” said Noel.
Tulsa Recycle and Transfer is still rebuilding their machinery that sorts recyclables, a process they say has been delayed by supply chain issues with the new equipment. General Manager XX said they hope to restart it in the next month.
For the City, it's been a balancing act of trying to keep the recycling habit going, while the recycling system wasn't working. “We've been telling people to continue separating the recycling for the last year just so they wouldn't get out of their recycling habit” said Noel.
The city's list of acceptable recyclables hasn't changed from the original list posted on the top of the carts. The program accepts cardboard and paper, aluminum and steel cans, plastic bottles and jugs, and glass bottles and jars.
The City strongly discourages anyone from putting anything in the cart they’re not sure is on the list, and especially not batteries. The fire that disabled the system was blamed on a small lithium battery that went through the machinery when it should have been disposed of separately.