Here’s Why Recycling Sometimes Ends Up in Tucson Landfill | local news

After a Tucson-area resident shared on the Nextdoor app hearing that the company that picks up the recycling takes it to the landfill, without trying to recycle it, several neighbors replied that they would cancel their service.

Is the rumor true? The answer is, it depends.

A survey of businesses in eastern Pima County outside of Tucson that pick up trash revealed that they all accept recycling and only take it to landfill when it’s heavily contaminated.

The two smaller companies may not accept neighborhood recycling when only one or two households want to recycle. So it is not cost effective.

Recycling is puzzling. There is no doubt about that. Winter visitors to Tucson may find it more so if the rules are different from their summer homes.

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In some areas across the country, residents separate plastic, metal, and paper, often separating glass into separate boxes. This reduces contamination because it is very visible when each container contains specific substances.

In the Tucson area, we use single-stream recycling. Everything is put into one container, and sorted in a material recovery facility. When everything is put in one container, it is easy to make mistakes.

When one recycler accepts glass and the other doesn’t, it’s baffling.

When residents don’t believe the things they put in their recycling containers are being recycled, but are instead taken to a landfill, they feel it’s okay to put almost anything in curbside recycling containers. Once this is done, it will almost certainly go to landfill because the entire load will be contaminated.






Recycling rules vary by company, which can cause residents to be confused about what to put in their bins.


Courtesy of Republic Services


Do not use a recycling bin for waste. All trash and recycling companies in the area will work with someone who wants two garbage containers and not one recycling bin, or some other combination. This will be better than contaminated loads. Some may charge for an additional container.

The most important thing to know about recycling in Tucson and Pima County is that you shouldn’t put anything in the recycling bin that doesn’t belong to it. This includes plastic grocery bags, greasy pizza boxes, and trash—something you might find hard to believe is regularly found in recycling bins—dirty diapers.

The motto of all recyclers is: “When in doubt, get rid of it.”

recycling rules

These items are usually allowed in curbside recycling:

#1 – #7 plastic bottles and jugs. Rinse and then replace the caps.

Corrugated carton as packing boxes. Disassemble it and remove the excess packing tape. Do not accept pizza boxes because they are greasy. If the top is clean, rip it off and put it in the bottomless recycling bin.

Such as carton boxes such as cereal or pasta.

Milk and juice cans if they are clean.

Junk mail and office papers.

Aluminum cans and other metal food cans. You can leave the stickers turned on.

All items must be clean with no food or grease on or inside.

As a general rule, don’t put anything smaller than a tennis ball into the curbside recycling. When they are sorted by machine, these little things can fall through the machine.

Never put plastic grocery bags or other flexible plastic items such as bubble wrap and cellophane in curbside recycling. It can be recycled in most grocery stores.

There is a lot that can be recycled and a lot that cannot be recycled. Check your company’s website for details.

tucson environmental services

tucsonaz.gov/recycle, 520-791-5000

If you live in Tucson, Tucson takes care of your trash and recycles it. Recycling is picked up every two weeks and taken to the ReCommunity Recycling Center, which is owned by Republic Services.

Both trash and recycling containers are provided by the city.

Tucson does not accept glass for curbside recycling. However, you can throw bottles and jars at several sites, which you will find on the Internet tucne.ws / 1l27.

Recycling is transported to the ReCommunity Recycling Center, which is owned by Republic Services.

Fees vary depending on location, homeowners association dealings, number of pickup times and other factors.

Both trash and recycling containers are provided.

The Waste Department accepts items on the standard menu, but they also accept bottles and jars and are willing to pay a little extra to recycle them. Torn paper is not allowed.

If a material recovery facility reports severe contamination from a particular truck, operators will be more vigilant in neighborhoods where the truck services and may try to educate customers about what is allowed in curbside recycling.

Get rid of the silver point

silverpointdisposal.com520-477-7961

Residential recycling is carried out to the regional landfill in Marana to single-stream recycling containers there. Waste management then takes the contents to the ReCommunity Recycling Center.

The quarterly fee is typically $65 to collect twice weekly with some variations based on location. Discounts are available for military, first responders, and educators, but you must ask.

One container is provided. Customers should put recycling – no plastic bags – on the bottom and put all trash in trash bags on top. Garbage bags will be separated when picked up.

This is an individual operation, so owner Stephen Squires sees contamination immediately. Anything more than an accidental error and the customer is notified by email or text message.

Silver Point Disposal accepts the standard list of recyclables, bottles and jars.

Squires will also pick up any other items if customers are notified in advance. It will pick up yard waste, appliances, and just about anything large. He will take it to the appropriate places for recycling when appropriate and to a landfill, if that is the only option. It will also take hazardous waste separately if notified in advance.

Those who are not customers of Silver Point Disposal can contact Squires to arrange pick-up of something that cannot be left in the standard trolley. The fee depends on what the pickup is and where you have to go.

Hughes Health Services LLC

tucsontrash.com520-883-5868

The residential recycling is transported to the Tucson Transit Station on Ina Road. Residents can no longer leave their recycling materials at this location.

Fees are up to $10 per month for biweekly receipts. Trash containers are supplied. There is an additional fee if a second trash can is requested. Customers offer their own recycling bin.

Hughes Sanitation accepts the standard list of recyclable materials excluding #2 plastics and glass.

If contamination is observed, flyers are left to the customer.






Employees work on sorting machines at Republic Services’ recycling center in Tucson.


Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star


Republic services

republicservices.com And the recyclingsimplified.com520-745-8820

Recycling is carried out to the Republic Services Material Recovery Facility.

Garbage collection and recycling take place once a week. Fees vary based on location and HOA contracts. Garbage and recycling containers are provided; Various sizes are available.

Operators try to monitor contamination but usually use automatic side loaders, so checking is not easy.

Republic accepts the standard list of recyclable items including bottles and jars.

Dispose on the spot (RAD)

wasteconnections.com/arizona520-881-4227

RAD is now Arizona’s waste communications. go to the tucne.ws/1l2a For a comprehensive list of what’s acceptable.

Recycling is carried out to our material recovery facility in Apache Junction and sorted by hand.

Containers are provided. Fees vary based on location and other circumstances.

RAD suspended recycling services for a few months at the start of COVID because recycling was sorted by hand and was careful for its employees. It goes back to recycling regularly.

living apartment

What if you live in an apartment that has no recycling?

Talk to your pool manager and try to get him or her to add recycling bins near the trash can.

Take your recycling to a neighborhood recycling center. You will find a list of those in Tucson at tucne.ws/1l2b And information about recycling in Pima County tucne.ws / 1l2c.

Joanna Eubank, Digital Producer for The Arizona Daily Star and tucson.com. She has been working with Star in various positions since 1991.