The City of Fort Worth recently launched a campaign aimed at educating people about what specifically needs to be recycled.

Too many people put the wrong things in the trash, costing millions of dollars in tax dollars, according to the city.

According to the city, about 30% of what people put in their trash is actually contaminated and ends up in landfills. As such, the city is asking people to wait and think about where the item should actually go.

At the Republic Services Recycling Facility in Fort Worth, you’ll find a maze of moving conveyor belts, specialized machinery, and people sorting materials by hand.

RJ Hillman took FOX 4 on a tour of the facility.

“At Presort, we look for items that can break the machine and cause problems, hangs and jams,” he explained.

Water hoses, extension cords, Christmas lights, and plastic bags all clog the machine.

“It’s like an AI system,” says Hillman. “We know what the material is and we know how to recognize it, so we know where to classify it.”

At our Fort Worth facility alone, 400 tons of plastic containers, cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and glass are resold or diverted every day. This benefits both the company and its contractor, the city of Fort Worth.

But Fort Worth Code Compliance’s Brandon Bennett says there’s a big problem.

“About 20 to 30 percent of what goes into a material recycling facility ends up as waste. It shouldn’t have been in the cart in the first place,” he said. “This equates to about $2.5 million in lost revenue each year.”

So the city came up with a new educational campaign called WAIT, or “Where Are You Throwing It?”

The city wants people to be more aware of which materials can actually be recycled.

“We’re actually going out into the neighborhood and opening people’s recycling containers to see what’s in there,” Bennett said.

The company’s website also has a “waste wizard” that you can enter items into and tell you whether to discard or recycle. There is also an app.

In short, more efficient recycling means more revenue for the city and less increase in the fees we pay for our services.

“The better people recycle, the lower the cost, the higher the income, and the longer we can afford to raise rates for residents,” Bennett said.

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