Even though we should already know what’s going on in the blue, green, and gray waste and recycling carts, we still get those “oops!” ” moments.
Oops! Plastic grocery bags say they can be recycled, but not in the blue recycling bin.
Oops! The dog’s poop ended up in the green garden bin.
Oops! This empty peanut butter jar was thrown in the gray trash can.
Signs remind residents of what goes where
The City of Fresno Recycling Department hopes we can have fewer and fewer “oops” moments, especially with new state-required composting rules coming into effect here soon.
So recycling compliance officers roamed neighborhoods, flipped lids, then left sweet reminders — the “Oops” sign — to let residents know what belongs where.
And yes, the city keeps track of who gets the sign. But that’s for informational purposes, not punitive, says Ahmad Alkhayyat, deputy director of utilities in the solid waste division.
When members of the compliance team peek into the bins, it’s to find out “what percentage is compliant or non-compliant,” he said. “We are in the research and development period as we speak.
“We really need data. The data helps us to target certain behaviors.
The city will launch its awareness campaign from July and it will be useful to know which neighborhoods to target with information campaigns, he said.
The “Oops” signs were designed specifically to have a cartoonish look so residents who find one on their cart won’t feel threatened and realize they’re meant to be educational, Alkhayyat said.
Items most seen in the wrong bins (like plastic bags and Styrofoam) have checkboxes on the signs. Similarly, the plate contains checkboxes for prohibited green waste carts.
Putting items in the right bins means spending less money separating items at waste and recycling centers, which can reduce costs for customers in the long run.
Application on the horizon
After the city implemented the composting rules required in Senate Bill 1383 – Fresno obtained a waiver from the state to delay implementation until 2023 so the city could revise contracts with its waste and recycling handlers – education efforts will at some point shift to enforcement efforts, Alkhayyat said.
The goal of SB 1383 is to reduce the amount of food waste and other compostable or recyclable materials that now end up in landfills.
Under the law, the state requires agencies to cite customers for failing to follow recycling and composting rules, he said.
The city has yet to establish its process, but it will likely involve at least a warning before a citation is issued, Alkhayyat said.
“But before that, we are doing a huge education campaign,” he said.
Some recycling reminders
So where do the plastic grocery bags go? Back to grocery stores, where there is usually a recycling bin.
And what about having to clean food waste from plastic or metal containers so they don’t clog recycling machines? Alkhayyat says residents should not use our precious water supply to flush containers. Scrape as much as you can, then recycle the container, he said.