About 103 pounds of soiled diapers are found in San Antonio’s recycling centers every hour. And every year, the city has to pay the recycling processor about $1.2 million in fees. But if the city gets below five pounds of diapers per hour, the processor will no longer charge that million dollar tab.
Now, San Antonio is considering implementing a $50 fee when used diapers are found in the blue residential recycling carts.
Solid Waste Management director David McCary said the proposed $50 fee isn’t to generate revenue, but to simply discourage people from placing diapers, which can contaminate other recycled products, in recycling bins. About 18 percent of recycling materials are contaminated by diapers or other non-recyclable materials, he said.
“This is about getting down that 103 pounds per hour to under 50 pounds per hour,” he said. “We want to do consecutively for about six months.”
The city currently has a fee of $25 assessed when other contaminants are found in recycling carts. The proposed $50 fee would only apply to diapers. Warnings are first given, and only about 3 percent of those receiving warnings reoffend, McCary said.
“If we do identify that there is something placed in that container that should not have been, then we have to educate them,” he said. “We owe it to them to let them know there is a better way. And then in most cases, … they get it right and we move on.”
Solid Waste Management uses route inspectors to check the recycling bins of some customers for contaminating contents before the bin is picked up.
The fee wouldn’t come in the form a ticket but instead on a homeowner’s CPS Energy bill, where solid waste management costs are normally assessed.
The proposal passed the City Council’s health committee Tuesday. A date for full council consideration has not been set.