A Look Inside the McAllen Recycling Center
MCALLEN — If you live in McAllen, you know all about the black and blue bin system, but are you using them properly?
"There's still a misconception of what's recyclable and what's not recyclable," said Gaby Reyna with Keep McAllen Beautiful.
A team of workers sift through the loads and are still alarmed that people continue to mix in their trash.
"Dirty diapers, bathroom trash, food, contaminated products, paper. I know any paper is recyclable, but if it has food, it's non-recyclable," said Reyna.
Many think pizza boxes can be recycled because it's cardboard...but that's not true, because the grease contaminates the material.
"All kinds of stuff, you name it, anything is found in there," said Reyna.
Drugs, money, passports and dead animals are just some of the wildest things the recycling center has found.
"You think about good human nature, so yeah it kind of surprised me that they would do that," said McAllen resident, Monica de la Canal.
So what causes people to turn in non-recyclables?
"I think people don't know what to do with it, and so they just put it in the garbage," said McAllen resident, Louise Flippin.
...but that can lead to additional problems.
"It's other people's jobs to go through that and sometimes things can be hazardous, you know people could get sick," said resident, Melissa Torres.
And while a lot of this stuff is toxic, some of it can be brought in like car batteries and used motor oil.
"We actually have a used motor oil drop off area here at our recycling center and we encourage anyone who's doing the quick changes at home of their motor oil, bring it in," said Recycling Center Director, Chris Lash.
A glass bottle takes up to 500 years to decompose and it's something that can easily be diverted from the landfill.
"It stays in there for a really, really, really long time and that's precious space we could be conserving instead of burying inside of it," said Reyna.
Nearly 500 tons were collected at the center this past year...10 times more than the previous year.