Contaminated recyclables can hurt RI communities

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island communities are now being asked to clean up their acts when it comes to recycling.

When sifting through mounds of recyclables at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation in Johnston, it doesn’t take long to find things that should not be there. Recycling Director Sarah Kite-Reves said as of this July, cities and towns will have to pay even more for dropping off contaminated waste.

“Prior to that time, for about the past ten years, the fine had been $100 per rejection,” she said. “Now that fine is $250 per rejection.”

Rejected loads consist of delivers that are more than 10% contaminated by volume. Kite-Reves said contaminants come in all shapes and sizes, including “food scraps, dirty diapers, and things that can wrap like cables and VCR tapes.

However, even just one piece of medical waste, such as a dirty needle, means automatic rejection. For turning in rejected loads, Providence has been at the top of the pile. Kite-Reves said in addition to the fines, that’s a costly position to be in.

“That reduces the amount of money that we can make from the sale of the recycling, which reduces the amount that we share back to the cities and towns,” she explained.

Click here for a full list of what you can and can’t recycle.

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