SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today's Why Guy question comes Facebook from Zoe Walter: Why does the city of Sacramento not accept all recyclable materials that the recycling center or scrapyard takes? Isn't that just causing more buildup in the landfills?

Zoe, I'll talk trash with the best of 'em...I actually was a city trash collector a couple of years back on a story.

The big issue is the soiled stuff people put in their recycle bins. Your home recycle bin has to contain clean wastepaper, plastic, glass and metal. What are examples of things the city finds in your recycle bin? 

"Greasy pizza boxes, a half used mayonnaise jar, and a bottle of BBQ sauce. Contamination. All in the mix" Erin Treadwell, Outreach Manager for the Sacramento Solid Waste and Recycling Department, said.

If you put soiled stuff in your recycle bin, there’s a good chance it’ll all have to go in the garbage.

When the city dumps your recyclables out to be sorted and finds the contamination, then the whole recycled truckload gets sent to the landfill. The city doesn't have the time or money to wash your goopy barbecue sauce bottled mess.

"Folks are frustrated with how complex recycling has become, so they just throw it all in the garbage," Treadwell said. "Doing so will cost customers a lot more money if the city has to pay for disposal of all that extra garbage that could have been recycled."

Sacramento's recycled material is shipped and sold to China, and the Chinese have put new restrictions on accepting dirty Sacramento stuff. Keeping it clean will save us all money, roughly $60 per metric ton.

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