Nov 17, 2022 - News

More Tampa residents aren't recycling properly

Illustration of a recycling bin with an angry face.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The City of Tampa says we're ruining recycling.

Driving the news: The city's Solid Waste Department says it's been dealing with an all-time high of contaminated recycling loads.

  • "Contamination risks the sustainability and success of the recycling program," Shelby Lewis, the city's recycling coordinator, said in a statement.

What's happening: The department says we're all probably "wishcycling" — we wish that something is recyclable, so we put it in the recycling bin, even though it's not.

  • Lots of stuff can ruin a load, like food waste in boxes or plastic that's not recyclable.

Of note: Tampa offers a free app that lets you know what's recyclable and what's not.

✏️ Quiz time: Is it recyclable in Tampa?

A. Soiled pizza box

B. Plastic laundry detergent jug

C. Paper coffee cup

D. Plastic Starbucks cup that looks recyclable

E. Paper milk carton


A. No, trash it. Dirty, greasy or wet paper or cardboard items are not recyclable.

B. Can be recycled if empty, rinsed and open. Throw cap in garbage.

C. Trash it. Avoid single-use items.

D. Not recyclable, no matter how much you wish.

E. Nope, trash. Aseptic cartons — like ice cream tubs, broth containers and beverage cartons — that are lined with plastic and/or metal are not accepted.


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