Cleaning Up Our Recycling Bins A High Priority for Tulsa

Trash Talk by BETH TURNER
Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

KIND REMINDERS: Lids must be fully closed for the truck to pick up the bin. Say no to bags in the recycling bin, just let it all hang out loose in there! Bags gum up the recycling machines and cause costly repairs. Plastic bags can be dropped off at any Walmart location entryway.


In 2012, the City of Tulsa provided citywide single-dwelling curbside recycling free of charge and a choice of small to large trash bins at increasing prices. From then to today, homeowners have been able to reduce their trash waste and cost, thanks to the easy-to-use recycling system. But as interest in recycling increases, so do contamination levels. Meaning, once people see how much of our trash can be recycled it feels like everything should be able to be recycled!

City of Tulsa Refuse and Recycling Manager Maureen Turner, no relation that we yet know of, says, “When we took on curbside recycling, we entered an agreement to maintain contamination rates at 15 percent. However, we’re at about 21.93 percent. We’ve got to get that rate lowered, which we certainly can do with the community’s help.”

Here’s is what can go in curbside recycling bins:
• Aluminum and steel cans
• Paper and cardboard
• Rigid plastics no. 1-7
• Glass jars and bottles

Here are a few tricks Turner offers to help figure out into which bin to toss unwanted items:

“You can recycle tubs, buckets, jars and containers from your kitchen, laundry and bath. If it’s from the garage, take it to the Hazardous Waste Drop-off Center.

“If you can wad it up or roll it up, throw it out (in the trash).” This includes items such as plastic bags, (which can be dropped off at any Walmart store), plastic wrap, aluminum foil, electrical cords, wire and garden hoses.

Lastly, “If in doubt, throw it out.” Turner says it’s better to lose a little recycling than to contaminate the whole bin.

In an effort to figure out how to better serve Tulsans, Turner met with community members for advice on what holds people back from easy recycling. Many said their kitchen space is too small for multiple trash and recycling bins, so the city is bringing to town strengthened plastic bags with handles on the bottom so they can be hung on a door handle, and easily emptied into the blue bins. I will alert you when these new bags are available.

This fall, up to 15 bags of yard waste placed next to the trash and recycling bins will also be picked up free of charge. “Each season, we see an increase in contamination because bagged leaves are placed in the recycling bins. These bags go next to the bins, not t them. Easy mistake, but a costly one for the city. Just leave them on the ground, and they’ll be hauled off for you.”

Lastly, Turner or someone from her team is available to come speak to your group or organization. From homeowners to scouts, Turner says meeting with people creates great memories and involvement. “You know, this all sounds overwhelming at first. But after we get to present to groups and people get to learn about how our trash system works and the ways it keeps us healthy as a city, I find people appreciate what we’re working towards a lot more and that’s what brings me happiness – when people see we’re working for them and for a healthier, cleaner city while saving all of us a little money along the way.” To book your appointment, contact Turner at 918-596-9777.

Updated 10-31-2017

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