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Solid Waste Department: Contamination is ruining recycling in Tampa

The department says there's an all-time high of contaminated recycling loads.

TAMPA, Fla. — The goal of recycling is to make sure products are reused, but right now in Tampa, contamination is ruining the recycling in the city, according to the Solid Waste Department.

The department says there's an all-time high of contaminated recycling loads.

City leaders explain that there are many different types of recycling contamination – including plastic, food waste and more. Contamination can be "wishcycling" which is "the idea that someone wishes it could be recyclable, so they place it in the bin."

It can also happen when items are placed in the bin with liquid or food still there.

On National Recycling Day, Nov. 15, crews want to make sure people know exactly what goes in their recycling bins.

"In the last 12 months, City of Tampa residents and businesses have recycled over 3.6 million pounds of material," Shelby Lewis, recycling coordinator, explained in a statement. "Now, we are hoping to grow that number even more with additional knowledge and awareness on recycling the right way. 

"Contamination risks the sustainability and success of the recycling program."

A good rule of thumb is to make sure everything you recycle is clean, empty and dry. Check local listings to know what items can be put in the recycling bin and which ones should just be thrown out.

To make things easier, the city of Tampa launched a recycling app. It has information on how to get rid of any item using the waste sort feature.

It also includes a collection calendar for single-family homes serviced by the department.

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