SAN ANGELO, Texas — Of the 12 tons of recycling that Butts Recycling Incorporated (BRI) sees everyday coming from San Angelo residents, roughly 35 percent of it is contaminated.

General Manager Shawn Stine says, “contamination is not really the recyclable item being contaminated. It’s items that are not supposed to be in there. That’s the contamination like the bags of trash or rotten meat and stuff like that.”

One possibility for the contamination could be not knowing what is allowed to be recycled or not. Republic Services, the group that picks up recycling from the curbside, has provided a list of what items are accepted and not accepted as recyclables.

Accepted Items:

  • Flattened corrugated cardboard
  • Boxboard, cereal and frozen food boxes
  • Plastics #1 and #2
  • #1 plastics include soda and water bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter jars and salad dressing
  • #2 plastics include milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles, and shampoo bottles
  • Steel, tin and aluminum cans
  • Empty aerosol cans

Not Accepted Items:

  • Nos. 3-7 plastics, such as:
  • Plastic grocery bags, Pill bottles
  • Bubble wrap
  • Mixed papers
  • Frozen food bags and chip bags
  • Yogurt, butter, cream cheese containers
  • Waxed cartons
  • Batteries
  • Styrofoam, including food containers, cups and packing peanuts
  • Glass
  • Foil
  • Plastic or metal clothes hangers
  • Light bulbs
  • Hazardous or toxic product containers (ex. paint cans or lighter fluid containers)
  • Food and wet waste
  • Food-contaminated paper plates and napkins
  • Appliances and electronics
  • Garden hoses
  • Rubber balls and sports equipment
  • Tires
  • Wood
  • Yard waste

On a daily basis, Stine says they can bail between 10 and 12 bails of recyclables per day. Each bail is approximately 68Lx48Wx29H and can weigh between 1000 and 1800 pounds.

When the recycling is dropped off at the facility, it is placed on a belt that carries the recycled items up to a manned station along the way, getting the larger pieces of cardboard thrown into a holding area.

Once the smaller items reach the manned station, employees sort through cardboard, plastics 1 and 2, aluminum and tin cans; placing them all down chutes where they are held. All other material is hauled to the landfill.

Once the recycled items are in their holding cages and the cages fill up, workers transport the material onto another belt that is compacted into a bale.

When the facility has between 20 and 22 tons of items in bales, the categorized bales will be hauled off to their corresponding facilities.