- The City of San Jose, CA is considering $50 fines for people who regularly throw trash in the recycling bin.
- City spokesman David Vossbrink said a recent city audit found that 40% of the items found in recycling bins are not recyclables, but trash.
- "Our citywide goal is to achieve 100 percent recycling," Vossbrink said. The city is studying what kinds of trash end up in the recycling to see how education efforts can help.
San Jose has an admirable recycling rate of 75%, and bans Styrofoam and plastic bags. However, if trash is ending up in recycling bins, some people are either flouting or just not getting the message.
Reasons for recycling confusion vary. In a 2014 online poll by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and Earth911, 65% of respondents said they don’t understand what plastics are acceptable in curbside collection. That's why the city is looking to educate residents first. "If we do have chronically difficult customers who are not responding to all the other efforts we have here then we'll look at enforcement tools here," Vossbrink told NBC Bay Area.
Although it is not exactly clear how San Jose officials will monitor bins in order to fine residents, it will likely be similar to the controversial trash monitoring system in Seattle where Seattle Public Utilities employees are hired to examine trash bins. Residents of Seattle have sued the city on claims of privacy invasion, however Andy Ryan of Seattle Public Utilities has said they've otherwise received very few complaints about the program.