80% of products thrown into Odessa recycling bins end up contaminated

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ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – Right now nearly 80 percent of products recycled in Odessa end up getting sent to the landfill because they’re getting not being recycled properly.

“We need to take care of this issue first – Being able to recycle right, before we can expand on our recycling system,” said Claudia Ortega, the executive director of Keep Odessa Beautiful.

At the Odessa Recycling Center, people throw away all sorts of non-recyclable items, such as microwaves and car parts. Unfortunately, once these items are mixed in with recyclable products, it all has to go to the landfill.

Still, the main reason for this constant contamination is people try to recycle all of their plastic items. However, there are seven different categories of plastic and in Odessa you can only recycle numbers one and two.

“Unfortunately people bring all the numbers, not just numbers one and number two. So that’s a concern in itself. You just have to make sure you only recycle what we can recycle here in Odessa,” said Ortega.

It’s easy to tell what plastic products you can and can’t recycle. They all have a small triangle with a number on it. This symbol is typically on the bottom of your container. If the triangle has a number one or two, you can recycle it. If it has numbers three through seven, you cannot bring it to the recycling center.

“Unfortunately if that happens all of your products will go straight to the landfill, you cannot recycle it. The work that all the other citizens put into recycling will go out the window because it now has to go to the landfill,” said Ortega.

Recycling Symbols

You can also tell if a product is made out of a number one or two plastic based on how it looks. Number one is clear and lightweight. It’s the most common type of plastic you typically see on water and other beverage bottles. Number two plastic is sturdier and is the plastic that holds milk and laundry detergent.

Anese Forsyth is a teacher at Reagan Elementary, and she’s turned the school into a model recycling center for the city of Odessa that anyone can use.

“If we individually take responsibility then as a team of citizens we can make a difference,” said Forsyth.

She’s teaching her students about natural resources and how difficult it can be to get them back once we use them. Forsyth says it’s especially important to conserve natural resources, like plastic, in the Permian Basin.

“Plastic is a petroleum product and that’s very relevant for our area, because that’s where petroleum comes from. It’s the largest petroleum producer in the world.”

If you find it difficult to recycle, one easy step to lowering your carbon footprint is to reduce and reuse before you even have to recycle.

“The only plastics that we recycle here is number one and number two. For any other thing you can reuse it. You can reuse those items for your salsa, your tomato sauce or anything else. You reuse those items instead of throwing them out for them to just end up in the landfill,” said Ortega.

To learn more about how to recycle and find the nearest recycling center to you, click here.

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