- The City of San Antonio’s solid waste department has launched a campaign to educate its citizens on what they can and can’t recycle, hoping to prevent them from tossing hazardous wastes — including garbage hoses and electrical cords — into recycle bins. The city's biggest problem? Dirty diapers.
- The city has distributed flyers and produced 30-second commercials to inform citizens that the machinery cannot separate every item, and that the facility’s workers have to process residents’ smelly disposables, including hazardous wastes, by hand. A local KENS5 news page has even posted an advertisement that reads: "Dirty diapers are garbage. That's the bottom line. Thank you! Please don't recycle diapers."
- The solid waste department said that for the 2015 fiscal year only 159,680 tons of recycling was recovered from 537,116 tons collected.
Education to change behaviors — ultimately preventing use of recycling bins as garbage dumps — is what the city believes is its most useful tool. Without the help and understanding of the consumer, solid waste management companies are left to solve these matters on their own.
"[Diapers] are biodegradable, in some form, as human waste, so I think that maybe sometimes people think, why not? But they're not thinking about the consequences it can have," said Tiffany Edmonds, San Antonio City’s Solid Waste Department public relations manager.
Edmonds and other city officials hope the messages contained in the flyers and ads will foster an understanding that items like dirty diapers are contaminants and they can be hazardous, not only for the stream of recycled materials, but for plant workers.