LODI (CBS13) —A new recycling program in Lodi that was intended to educate residents and help keep the city green is not sitting well with everyone.
It’s called Recycling Right, a program rolled out by Waste Management and designed to reduce cross-contamination.
“Just recently, they have decided to start digging through everybody’s trash and saying you’re going to be fined if you are warned so many times,” said Cara Fink, Lodi resident.
Under the program, residents can be fined almost $14 for contaminating their recycling bin with non-recyclables. Waste Management plans to hand out warnings for the first two offenses, hand out fines by the third violation and replace a person’s container by the fourth offense with a 96-gallon trash bin for the year – at the resident’s expense.
“I thought it was somewhat ridiculous and given that I’ve seen the problem go on for many years, I think they should have been pretty much doing their job their whole time and they wouldn’t have this problem,” said Fink.
Leaders with waste management say the program is needed because there are a lot of people who are not recycling the right way.
“What we found is that, unfortunately, a lot of people put in a lot of things that shouldn’t be in a recycle bin. We see a lot of diapers, we see a lot of bowling balls, Barbie’s, bags of charcoal, a lot of the hazardous waste as well,” said Joe Cadelago, public sector manager with Waste Management.
They say about 50 percent of the material going in for recycling is non-recyclable items which can damage machines and slow the process down.
“So, what could happen is if a bowling ball goes through our system, a can paint or a hazardous waste goes through it, we have to stop all the machines, clean it all out, clean it up and make sure things are working correctly,” he said.
City leaders say Recycle Right, is about teaching people the correct way to recycle, similar to the rules placed in Lodi 15 years ago and mailed out to residents every year.
“If you happened to drop the wrong thing in the wrong can, one or two times, it’s not going to be a big deal, but there are people out there who apparently chronically abuse the process and those people are going to be penalized,” said City Councilman Bob Johnson.
Educational material informing customers about the new waste management program has been sent out and is available in both English and Spanish.