City officials from the Environmental Services Department unveiled the Recycling Challenge where participants will receive a yellow, green or black belt based on their recycling knowledge. Those who advance to a new belt will receive an exclusive prize from the Environmental Services Department.
Participants easily receive a yellow belt by registering and completing a virtual or in-person course on recycling; green belts are awarded when participants pass an “unannounced review” of recycling bin contents or or by completing a recycling quiz; black belts are awarded when a participant passes two recycling bin content reviews or two recycling quizzes.
“We have a recycling contamination problem,” said Ellen Smyth, managing director for El Paso’s Environmental Services Department. “The past five years, the city spent more than $1.1 million to landfill material that didn’t belong in the blue bins because approximately one in three items tossed in the blue were not materials accepted in our Curbside Recycling Program.”
El Paso’s contamination rate for its recycling program is 32%, which is higher than the national average at 25%. Roughly one out of every three recycling bins has items that are not supposed to be placed in them. The department said they’re hoping to reduce their contamination rate to 23% by 2023.