Recycling Bin Audit FAQs
Recycle Right Morgantown is an initiative of the City of Morgantown to help clean up our curbside recycling bins. Currently, about 30% of what goes in curbside recycling bins is contamination, in other words it is stuff that should go in the trash! To help reduce contamination in curbside recycling will be giving direct feedback in an effort to help people recycle right! Starting in August 2020, we will be going around neighborhoods checking bins and attaching “Oops” tags to contaminated curbside recycling bins. Below is a list of the most common FAQ about this program. Please Contact Us if you didn’t see your question below or would like to volunteer as a bin auditor.
Remove the contamination from the recycling. The bin will be serviced during the next regularly scheduled pickup day. If you are unsure what contamination is in your bin please email email@example.com with your address and indicate what contamination was marked on the “Oops” tag.
- Yes. The United States Supreme Court has held that a person has no expectation of privacy in abandoned property (Abel v. U.S., 362 U.S. 217 ). Property is abandoned when a person has “voluntarily discarded, left behind[,] or otherwise relinquished his interest in the property in question so that he could no longer retain a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to it at the time of the search (United States v. Colbert, 474 F.2d 174, 176 [5th Cir. 1973]), accord United States v. Masiello, 491 F. Supp. 1154 [D. S.C. 1980]).
- In U.S. v. Walker, the District Court of Maryland found that a bag containing trash and other material, left by the roadside by a suspect, was abandoned under this standard and that the suspect had no reasonable expectation of privacy that would prevent government investigators inspecting the bag without a warrant (624 F. Supp. 99 [D. Md. 1985]). In 1988, the United States Supreme Court held that a person had no reasonable expectation of privacy in trash placed in opaque bags at the curbside for collection by a garbage collector (California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 ). Accordingly, collection of the trash by government officials without a warrant or the suspect’s consent was permissible (Id). Under this precedent, the City and its agents are legally entitled to inspect materials left at the curb for collection by Republic Services as trash and recyclables.
Contamination in recycling bins can negatively affect workers, the environment, and your wallet.
- Trash mixed with recyclables can be unsafe for haulers or recycling workers who sort through single-stream recycling.
- Contamination raises the cost of sorting recycling into commodities that can be made into new products. This is why China stopped accepting a large amount of recyclable materials from the U.S. and other developed countries.
- Buying a recycled commodity that has high amounts of contamination is like buying mixed nuts when all you want are the peanuts. It is more work and expensive to sort through to get what you want.
- Materials Recovery Facilities, where recyclables are sorted, charge fees for contamination in recycling. These costs trickle down to residents resulting in fee increases.
Sorted and bundled, recycled materials are used to make new products. If a bin is contaminated, all its contents may go directly to the landfill, never to be reused. This means more of our natural resources go to making new products. Each of our homes on average has over 300,000 items—from pens to beds. Imagine how much raw material it would take to make all that from scratch? https://www.latimes.com/health/la-xpm-2014-mar-21-la-he-keeping-stuff-20140322-story.html
The presence or absence of contamination in bins. If contamination is found, the type will be recorded in a survey app to determine trends within our area and be used for follow-up audits. The six types of contamination included are:
- Food contamination
- Plastic bags
Specific details such as product type/brand or personal information will not be collected. For example, a pizza box that has grease on it will be recorded as “food contamination.”
No! Bin auditors will check for contamination by opening the lid of the recycling bin and looking for the presence of contamination. Bin auditors will not sort through any recycling or trash.
The City of Morgantown Recycling Manager will be leading a group of trained volunteers to check bins ahead of the recycling truck. If you would like to volunteer for this, please sign up on ISERVE. At a minimum, all volunteers will wear safety vests, mask, and gloves, practice social distancing measures, and complete a training before inspecting bins.
An “Oops” tag is a tag that attaches to the handle of recycling bins. Contaminated bins will get an “Oops” tag with 1 or more checkboxes marked for 6 types of contamination. The backside will have a recycling guide outlining the “How Tos” and “Dos and Don’ts”. You can also download a guide here.
Republic Services will not empty recycling bins with an Oops tag. When the contamination is removed, the bin will be emptied on the next regular pickup day. A bin inspector will check the bin before collection to verify removal of the contaminated items. Refunds for missed pickups will not be given if the recycling bin was not serviced due to contamination.
Bin inspecting will start in August 2020 in different areas of Morgantown Neighborhoods. If your area will be inspected you will be notified by a door hanger and a phone call by Republic Services.
Curbside recycling is offered to all residents living in the City of Morgantown and is serviced by Republic Services. Recycling is included in your trash bill which is billed through MUB.
Note: If you rent or have a commercial account for your dwelling, please check with your landlord or commercial account contact to see if recycling is offered.